Volleyball goes winless in GLIAC-GLVC showcase

GVL Archive
Freshman Christina Canepa and her teammates prepare for the return during a past match.

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Freshman Christina Canepa and her teammates prepare for the return during a past match.

Zach Sepanik

It was a bitter ride home for the Grand Valley State University volleyball team after the fourth annual GLIACGLVC Crossover Tournament last weekend in Aurora, Ill., where the Lakers finished 0-3 as the GLIAC’s seventh seed.

GVSU jumped out to quick starts in all three matches but hit several bumps in the road that the team could not overcome. Libero Christina Canepa and setter Olivia Kohler went out with concussions during the weekend, forcing backup players to step up into greater roles.

“I think we just struggled with consistency,” said sophomore outside hitter Megan Schroeder. “There were times where we played really well and then times where we just fell apart. We definitely could have won. We played as hard as we could and it just didn’t work out.”

On Saturday, GVSU faced Lewis University for a third-straight year in the crossover tournament. The Lakers won the first two sets before watching Lewis University come back to win in dramatic five-set fashion, 25-20, 25-18, 18-25, 14-25 and 14-16.

“Against Lewis we won the first two games and felt really good going into the third, and then dropping the last three, we just worked so hard,” said freshman outside hitter Abby Aiken. “We could have come back easily, but we just couldn’t get over the hump for some odd reason. We have the talent.”

After an Aiken service ace in the second set to give the Lakers an 8-3 lead, they pushed the set to 15-13 before rattling off seven consecutive points to put the game out of reach. However, it would be all Lewis after that.

Aiken led GVSU with a match-high 17 kills and added six kills and two aces. Meanwhile, senior middle blocker Nicole Whiddon had a strong match with 14 kills and five digs. Freshman setter Clair Ruhenkamp chipped in with 27 assists, while sophomore libero Sacha Gill pitched in with a match-best 21 digs.

In both games Friday, GVSU won the first set before losing three straight and eventually falling 3-1. In their opening match against GLVC fourth-seed Missouri University of Science and Technology, the Lakers fell 27-25, 19-25, 23-25 and 21-25.

The second set remained close until an 8-2 Missouri run made it 21-15 and put it out of reach.

GVSU never held a lead in the fourth set, coming close but never able to get over the hump. Kills from Ruhenkamp and Gill and an ace from Aiken made it 22-21, but it was not enough.

“I feel like we’d start off with really high energy and then just fizzle out toward the end when we needed it the most,” said Eno Umoh, junior middle blocker. “When the teams went on runs we would miss our serves or make attack errors which we don’t do in the very beginning of the game, but we get close and we can’t just pull it together and finish it.”

With 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage, Aiken led the GVSU offense. Umoh provided a match-high six blocks and Gill picked up a team-best 10 digs. Finally, Ruhenkamp passed for 33 assists.

In its evening matchup on Friday, GVSU dropped a four-set decision to Bellarmine University, the No. 8 team from the GLVC, 25-15, 25-27, 20-25, 18-25.

The Knights of Bellarmine held an advantage in almost every category, including assists, digs and service aces.

GVSU had 14 kills and one error for a .481 hitting percentage in the opening set, starting out strong. However, the Lakers could not do enough to sustain the lead.

“We just got kind of complacent with how we played and we kind of underestimated the teams on Friday,” Aiken said.

Sophomore middle blocker Abby Ebels had a .522 hitting percentage and added a match-high seven blocks. Aiken contributed a double-double with 16 digs and 15 kills and junior setter Olivia Kohler provided 22 assists and nine digs.

The Lakers will face Michigan Technological University on Friday and Northern Michigan University on Saturday, the team’s Senior Day, for the final two home games this regular season.

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