GV dodgeball upended by Central Michigan

GVL Archive / Nicole Lamson
Juniors Dan Lesley and Jeremy Stempky in action during a past dodgeball meet

GVL Archive / Nicole Lamson Juniors Dan Lesley and Jeremy Stempky in action during a past dodgeball meet

Kevin VanAntwerpen

Despite a valiant effort, the Grand Valley State University dodgeball team fell 4-2 to Central Michigan University on Saturday, marking the team’s second loss of the season.

“(Central Michigan) came in hot, got in a groove and knew the strategy they needed to beat us,” said GVSU team captain Jimmy Stokes.

The first few minutes of the game were even. Every time the Lakers knocked out one or two of Central Michigan’s players, the Chippewas did the same. For a moment, Central Michigan had what Stokes called a “strong push” and forced the Lakers down on the count, meaning the Lakers didn’t throw a ball for 10 seconds and were forced by rule to hand all of the balls over to the other side.

Stokes said he believes the Chippewas realized the Lakers were not the same juggernaut of a team from last year thanks to the team’s struggles in losing the first point. While prior to the 2010-2011 season the Lakers hadn’t lost a game by more than one point, this year they graduated ten of their senior players, leaving them with mostly new faces to fill the gap.

“They realized we weren’t as strong as they thought we were,” Stokes said. “They kind of calmed down.”

To gain the next point, Central Michigan used ball advantage, a tactic in which a team holds onto six of the balls and only throws two at a time, forcing the Lakers to constantly play on defense. Stokes explained that the technique takes an great amount of coordination but is incredibly hard to defend against when done correctly.

“It made us a little more heavy,” said Greg Trippeidi, the club’s treasurer. “We weren’t as decisive. That meant that they could pick us off one by one – we couldn’t get their best players out, so their best players were getting us out.”

The last point before the half went to Central Michigan once again. With a just more than two minutes until half time, Central Michigan eliminated all but one Laker – Jeremy Stemtky. While he eventually fell, Stemtky managed to last almost two minutes on his own. 15 seconds longer and the half-time buzzer would’ve rung, leaving the score at a tie.

Going into the second half, the Lakers were “wound up” from such a close defeat. They managed to snag the first point in three minutes – a quick time compared to the usual eight to nine minutes.

“We were hitting all of our targets,” Stokes said. “We were making catches and catching them off guard.”

The rest of the game didn’t go as well for the Lakers. The Chippewas continued to use the ball advantage strategy and managed to take two more points, one of which within the last 20 seconds of the game.

“If we could’ve held out 20 seconds at halftime and at the end, the entire game would’ve been tied,” Stokes said.

Lenny Reinart said he believed the game could’ve gone differently if the Lakers had managed to coordinate themselves better.

“It was our lack of sync,” he said. “I believe we have better players as individuals – we just weren’t able to run our plans as well as we wanted.”

The Lakers expect a different game next time they’re pitted against Central Michigan.

“We play them again in a few weeks at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, and the expectation is that we’ll win,” Trippeidi said. “The things they did to throw us off – we’ll be ready for them.”

Despite the loss, Stokes said it was one of the smoothest games he’d ever seen.

“They were a really classy team,” he said. “There was no arguing and the refs were fair and precise. It was a well played game.” [email protected]