GVSU volleyball swept by Ferris State

GVL/Luke Holmes
Betsy Ronda (no.6) jumps up to spike the ball. Grand Valley lost to Ferris State in 3 games Nov. 21.

GVL/Luke Holmes Betsy Ronda (no.6) jumps up to spike the ball. Grand Valley lost to Ferris State in 3 games Nov. 21.

Alex Eisen

In a hostile environment inside Ewigleben Sports Arena, the Grand Valley State volleyball team aimed for revenge against rival No. 3 Ferris State on the Bulldog home court in the semifinals of the GLIAC tournament. The Bulldogs forcefully stood their ground.

The fourth-seeded Lakers (20-11) were swept in straight sets for the just the second time this season, as the top-seeded Bulldogs (30-2) handily defeated GVSU by scores of 25-22, 25-22, 25-11.

The Lakers had two regular-season losses to FSU heading into the match. The third time wasn’t the charm for GVSU, which was unable to come together as a cohesive unit to brew the upset.

“Bottom line was we had some great individual performances,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “But, you kind of have to have everyone on, contributing against Ferris because they have so many weapons.

“There just weren’t enough people who played at a top level that we needed them to today.”

Pouncing on the Lakers right from the opening serve, the Bulldogs started the match on a 9-3 run and forced Scanlon to call an early timeout.

FSU carried that momentum all the way to match point before GVSU mounted its comeback.

With the Lakers trailing 24-14, senior libero Taylor Shomin stepped behind the service line and helped ignite a furious rally of eight straight GVSU points. Just as things were starting to get interesting, FSU finally had enough and knocked down a kill to close out the frame, 25-22.

“At that point we really showed what was on the line and what we were playing for,” said senior Kaleigh Lound. “We should have done that for the entire game.”

FSU set the tone in the first stanza with just one attacking error. GVSU, on the other hand, finished each of the three sets with seven or more attacking errors.

Senior Jessica Majerle led the team with nine kills — six of which came in the second set.

After the Lakers fell behind 7-3 to start the second frame, their defense dug in and the offense began to put balls down consistently. As a result, GVSU was able to even score up at 13-13.

FSU then dialed up the intensity once again to pull away, 21-16. In GVSU’s last attempt of showing any form of resilience, the Lakers answered back with a 6-0 run behind three kills and three blocks.

The final four points, however, went to the Bulldogs as Majerle committed three attacking errors and freshman Staci Brower ended the set by putting the ball squarely into the net.

“We let (Ferris) get too many big leads,” Brower said. “We would have to fight back and we couldn’t fight back in time.”

Brower was a reliable option throughout the match, notching seven kills and putting up four total blocks. Sophomore setter Katie Olson also put forth a solid outing with 25 assists, 20 digs and three kills.

Shomin collected a team-high 20 digs as well and supplied three aces.

Even though GVSU’s defense held FSU to a .070 hitting percentage with 11 kills and seven attack errors in the second set, the Bulldogs still managed to grab the commanding 2-0 lead.

The third set was no contest. FSU used a 12-1 run early in the frame and coasted to the finish line, 25-11.

The defeat not only eliminated GVSU from the conference tournament, but also possibly knocked them out of the NCAA tournament. The Lakers entered the weekend as the eighth seed in the Midwest Regional rankings, with the top eight teams making the tournament.

While the Lakers are on the bubble to get in, they did help their own cause and got some assistance earlier in the week.

The Lakers defeated regional sixth-seed Ashland on Wednesday night in the first round of the conference tournament. Meanwhile, seven-seeded Saginaw Valley State lost to Hillsdale on the same night.

There remains a chance GVSU could catapult over both schools to make the NCAA tournament.

Scanlon is hoping the team’s consistent ability to win the matches it needed to will be enough for the NCAA committee to allow the Lakers to keep their season going.

“I don’t think we have had a bad loss,” Scanlon said. “Saginaw and certainly Ashland have really suffered from some bad losses – losses to teams that aren’t ranked in the top 10 in the region. While I have been disappointed by maybe not picking up a few wins here and there, every single one of our losses have been to somebody that’s ranked in the region.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s out of our hands.”

The selection show will be held online at www.ncaa.com on Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Between the two semifinal matches played Saturday at FSU, individual conference award winners were announced.

Brower won GLIAC Freshman of the Year and was named to the All-GLIAC First Team. She is only the second Laker ever to be named to the All-GLIAC First Team as a freshman – senior Betsy Ronda being the other.

“I was really shocked actually when I got (the awards),” Brower said. “I didn’t think I was going to get an award, and then getting both of those really shows that people have noticed my hard work. I’m really thankful to have such a great team that always believed in me.”

Ronda earned All-GLIAC Second Team honors. Shomin was chosen as an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention. Majerle was named to the All-GLIAC Tournament Team following FSU’s tournament win over Findlay.