GVSU volleyball downs Tiffin, Ashland at home

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Jayci Suseland (15) spikes the volleyball over the net and past a Ferris blocker. The Lakers fall to the Bulldogs of Ferris State with a final score of 1-3 Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 in Allendale.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Jayci Suseland (15) spikes the volleyball over the net and past a Ferris blocker. The Lakers fall to the Bulldogs of Ferris State with a final score of 1-3 Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 in Allendale.

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State volleyball team lost a set to the Tiffin Dragons for the first time in school history on Friday.

The rest of the weekend would go their way, though, as the Lakers came away with two home victories at Fieldhouse Arena over the Tiffin Dragons (9-8, 3-6 GLIAC) Oct. 7 and the Ashland Eagles (10-8, 4-5 GLIAC) Oct. 8, both by scores of 3-1 to raise their record to 10-6 (5-3 GLIAC).

It was the Jayci Suseland show in the first game of the weekend, as the freshman compiled 20 kills and one block with a .630 hitting percentage and did not record an error until the third set.

The Lakers came out scorching hot as they took the first set by a tally of 25-10 as the team hit .500 combined. Things went differently in the second set, though, as the Dragons won 25-19 – their first ever set win against the Lakers in nine total games. GVSU would make sure the Dragons did not win a second, though, as they took the third and fourth sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-21, respectively.

Along with Suseland’s contributions, sophomores Staci Brower and Brooke Smith netted 11 kills each and Brower had two blocks, sophomore Jillian Butsavish had nine kills and a block, freshman Kendall Yerkes had seven kills and 14 digs, and junior Katie Olson had 50 assists, 14 digs and three kills.

When asked if having her teammates hitting ability helped her, Suseland gave a definitive answer.

“Yeah,” Suseland said. “Definitely, because if they are playing really well, which they do often, (the other team) pulls the set because they see ‘oh, they’re doing well, so they’re going to set this person’ and they pull the block and it opens up way more shots for me or someone else.”

The Ashland Eagles came out strong the next afternoon, taking the first set 25-21. With their backs against the wall, the Lakers came out in the second set and led from the first volley on, winning 25-17.

The Eagles came out hot in the third set, taking a 19-14 lead, forcing a Laker timeout. Out of the break, the Lakers rallied back to a 22-22 tie. There was not much separating the two teams until the Lakers came out on the winning side of an exceedingly long volley, giving them a 23-22 lead and a jolt of energy that eventually led to a 26-24 set win.

The fourth and final set was filled with the same intensity as the last four points of the third set, and the Lakers emerged victorious 27-25 to come away with the match win.

There were a total of 29 ties and 13 lead changes in the first, third and fourth sets alone.

Suseland again lead the charge in kills with 19 along with two blocks, but it was Brower who had the mojo, as she tallied 11 kills and one block and managed to hit a team high .385.

Yerkes and Smith had nine kills each. Yerkes had 24 digs to go with Smith’s 16. Junior Sydney Doby (who missed the Tiffin game with a hand injury) recorded eight kills, Olson notched 29 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore Taylor Stewart racked up two kills, 15 assists, and 10 digs Senior Amanda Glaza, who filled in at libero for freshman Sydney Benchley who twisted her ankle in the Tiffin game, had 20 digs and 10 assists.

There was no doubt the extended volley in the third set was one of the difference-makers in the set.

“When those long rallies happen you want to be on the winning end of it, the good end of it,” head coach Deanne Scanlon said. “Emotionally, it makes you feel really good that you worked for that point.”

When asked about how the Lakers, who have struggled with inconsistency at times this season, would carry the winning feeling forward through the rest of the season, Brower is confident she knows the winning formula.

“I think we need to just keep talking and having communication,” she said. “Last week we didn’t have a lot of that and this week we struggled with it during practice, but during the games we got it going and I think it was the game-changer for us.”

The Lakers will press pause on their conference schedule and travel to Aurora, Illinois to play in the Midwest Region Crossover Oct. 14-15, opponents TBA.