GVSU volleyball goes 1-2 at Midwest Region Crossover

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Kendall Yerkes (2) jumps and sends the ball over the net. 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 – Kendall Yerkes (2) jumps and sends the ball over the net. 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 went 1-2 in the ninth annual Midwest Region Crossover tournament in Aurora, Illinois, dropping games to the Drury Panthers (14-7, 6-3 GLVC) by a score of 3-1 Friday, Oct. 14 and the Indianapolis Greyhounds (10-10, 5-4 GLVC) 3-0 Saturday, Oct. 15, but defeated the McKendree Bearcats (13-8, 8-1 GLVC) 3-1 on the same day.

McKendree ended the weekend 0-3, while Drury finished 2-1 and Indianapolis went a perfect 3-0.

The Lakers started the weekend strong by winning the first set against Drury 25-19, but would be unable to overcome the Panthers attack for the rest of the night, losing the next three sets 25-19, 25-8 and 25-18. Freshman Jayci Suseland tallied 13 kills while sophomore Brooke Smith picked up 12. Junior Katie Olson had 30 assists and 13 digs. Freshmen Sydney Benchley and Kendall Yerkes notched 20 and 12 digs, respectively.

Saturday would start better for the Lakers, as they would win the first two sets against McKendree 25-20 and 25-22 before dropping a hotly contested third set 27-25, but rebounded nicely and captured the fourth, 25-12.

Suseland captured a career high in kills with 27 while hitting .468. The last time a Laker had more kills in a single contest was Oct. 11, 2005, when Tracy Kirk swatted down 31 kills in a home match against Ferris State.

“Honestly, when I’m on the court, I don’t think about how many kills I have and I don’t recognize I’m doing well,” Suseland said. “My teammates are working really hard and I just have to play my part and I don’t think about how many kills or blocks I had until the game is over, so it doesn’t hit me in the game at all.”

Also performing well in the second match of the weekend were Smith (11 kills, 10 digs), sophomore Staci Brower (10 kills, three blocks), junior Jillian Butsavich (seven kills, two blocks), Olson (37 assists, 11 digs), Yerkes (14 digs, five kills) and Benchley (13 digs, four assists).

Things would go awry in the final game for the Lakers, as they dropped three straight close sets to Indianapolis, the first of which was a 34-32 marathon. The second set finished 26-24, and the third 25-21.

“We pretty much just couldn’t finish the last few points. We had a lot of errors at the end when we needed to push through,” Olson said. “We were with them the whole time then just couldn’t pull through.”

Suseland (15) and Brower (13) both put up strong efforts, tallying double-digit kills once again while sophomore Taylor Stewart dished out 21 assists to go along with Olson’s 18. Benchley and Yerkes led the charge on defense with 13 digs each, followed up by Olson with 11 digs and Smith with 10.

“We just need to continue to get better,” GVSU coach Deanne Scanlon said. “We battled. We didn’t get blown out by anybody. In those situations, it’s those unforced errors like missing serves and getting aced.

“We saw some good things this weekend, but it’s consistency. We need more than one person offensively. Brooke Smith did have a good weekend and was solid in our serve receive, but we’re still struggling with our consistency, and we’ve got a challenge ahead of us.”

The GLIAC ended the tournament with the best record by far, going 30-15, a silver lining for GVSU, since the tournament performance will show that the GLIAC is a strong conference this season and should benefit the Lakers when it comes to regional seeding.

Conference season picks back up next weekend when the Lakers hit the road again to challenge the 17-3 (8-1 GLIAC) Wayne State Warriors Friday, Oct. 21 and the 15-5 (8-1 GLIAC) Findlay Oilers Saturday, Oct. 22.