GVSU sweep GLVC competition

Zach Sepanik

The fifth installment of the GLIACGLVC crossover tournament was a thing of beauty for the Grand Valley State University volleyball team as they came away with a perfect 3-0 record, only losing one set in total, on Friday and Saturday in Aurora, Ill.

“We wanted to make sure since we have such a young team that they had a solid understanding of where everybody was sitting, seed-wise, and the opportunity that was ahead of us,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “That was one of the things we focused on, them not going in blind saying, ‘We have three matches, but we don’t know who these teams are.’ All three teams had very different styles.”

The Lakers (16-4, 6-3 GLIAC) pushed its win streak to seven games with the three victories and have now swept five of its last seven matches.

In the Friday afternoon match, GVSU faced Missouri University of Science and Technology, a team they beat in five sets on Sept. 1 at the Western Oregon Classic. This time around, after losing the first set, the Lakers turned things around to take it in four sets (17-25, 25-23, 25-21, 28-26), snapping the Miners’ nine-match winning streak.

Sophomore outside hitter Abby Aiken, senior middle blocker Eno Umoh and freshman outside hitter Betsy Ronda combined for 49 of GVSU’s 61 kills, as Aiken led the way with 19. Umoh had a very prolific outing, committing no errors in 22 attempts and hitting at a .682 mark.

Sophomore setter Clair Ruhenkamp also had a big time performance, delivering 52 assists and 13 digs.

Throughout the match, GVSU continually found itself behind, but clawed back each time their back was against the wall.

Down 19-17 in the second set, Umoh came up with a kill and then an attack error by Missouri S&T tied the score. A couple points later, tied at 23, Ronda delivered with a blast of her own and another error by the Miners capped off the Laker comeback. They would carry the momentum into the third set, starting off on a 9-0 run, all with sophomore libero Christina Canepa serving.

“If we get down a set, when we move on to the next set we just know it has to be better. We try to stay calm,” Ruhenkamp said. “It is a turning point for us. It shows that we are resilient and even if we get put in a tough situation, we are still going to come back and fight hard and give it all we got.”

In their night matchup, the Lakers took out Bellarmine University in straight sets, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-21.

Ruhenkamp delivered 34 assists, six digs, three block assists and a kill, while Canepa led the team with 13 digs.

To cap off the road trip, the Lakers defeated William Jewell College on Saturday, 25-22, 25-20, and 25-19.

“Everyone was extremely excited about our 3-0 weekend,” Umoh said. “Coach has been stressing about how important the crossover is to us and how we needed to win these games. We all went in knowing what we had to do to get it done. Just seeing our execution and how we played was very exciting.”

The perfect weekend has the Lakers stringing together some consistency, something Scanlon says is that next step toward GVSU becoming an elite team.

“We knew we could play at a high level and do some really exciting things but we weren’t really doing that early on a consistent basis,” Scanlon said. “We still have a lot of areas we can get better in, but I feel like we are playing more consistent volleyball for longer periods of time.”

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