GVSU dodgeball club nears win record

Courtesy / Alan Holben Photography

"Alan Holben Photography"

Courtesy / Alan Holben Photography

Mark Washburn

If you look into the corner of the gym, you will see a pile of 27 wins from the current season. Add that to the 12 wins to finish out last season, and Grand Valley State has 39 consecutive wins.

The Lakers (27-0) won all three games on Valentine’s Day in the Michigan Dodgeball Cup by defeating Central Michigan, Michigan State and Saginaw Valley State in East Lansing, Mich. This is the seventh time that Grand Valley State has claimed the Michigan Dodgeball Cup title.

The Lakers got the run started in a game against CMU. GVSU overpowered the Chippewas 4-0 in an effort that featured power – and physicality – from the Lakers.

“They had a hard time handling our pace because we were running faster and throwing harder,” said senior assistant captain Dylan Fettig.

Central Michigan also had a hard time handling freshman Kurtis DeYoung.

“(DeYoung) was not on their radar, and he was throwing well so we kept giving him the ball and he kept picking them off,” Fettig said.

The disciplined and fast-paced play threw the Chippewas off their game, but it was exactly the start the Lakers were looking for in their quest for the cup.

“The game against CMU set the tone for us the entire day,” said senior captain Kevin Bailey. “The last few times (against CMU) have been close, but this win really helped us moving forward.”

In the GVSU/MSU matchup, the teams played evenly in the first half. The Lakers were able to get off to a quick start scoring a point 4:15 into the stanza, but the Spartans slowed down the pace and were able to secure a point, which led to a 1-1 halftime deadlock.

“We’ve played them seven times (heading into the game), so they knew what to expect and they slowed the pace down and made smarter throws,” said senior Austin Morley.

Coming out of the half, the Lakers were on the same page after Bailey gave the team a halftime talk. After the break, GVSU dominated, scoring two points and playing disciplined dodgeball to defeat the Spartans 3-1. MSU’s one point was the only point GVSU gave up all day.

“Being on the same page in the second half really helped us (beat MSU) because we didn’t give them a ball advantage, and we didn’t have any wasted throws,” Fettig said.

Senior Trevor Nordberg has been vital for the Lakers success recently. He stepped up in the previous tournament at DePaul, and stepped up again in East Lansing.

“He really excels in a fast-pace game, is an accurate thrower and really helps us get an edge,” said Bailey.

The Lakers finished the day against rival Saginaw Valley State. SVSU was no match for GVSU, as the Lakers topped the Cardinals 4-0.

GVSU won the first point relatively quickly and didn’t look back. The team’s energy and focus was prevalent throughout the match, and fatigue caught up to the Cardinals.

With GVSU up 2-0 at the half, they played younger players to give them more experience. This allowed them to feel the big-game atmosphere, and develop in big-game situations.

Of course, the Lakers feel good about being able to bring home the Michigan Dodgeball Cup after falling to SVSU in last year’s competition.

“It feels good to have the cup back,” said Morley. “Overall we had a pretty good day, and based on how we performed, it gives us confidence moving forward.”

The 39 wins in a row is two shy of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association (NCDA) record. GVSU won 41 straight between 2006-10.

The Lakers have a chance to break their record at the CMU Showdown on March 21. GVSU will play four games that day and tangle with James Madison University, who is also undefeated, in a brawl for No. 1 seed in the national tournament.