GVSU volleyball splits two-game road trip

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Staci Brower (21) gets ready to block. 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 – Staci Brower (21) gets ready to block. 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 split yet another weekend series during conference play, the third in a row and sixth this year.

With a 3-0 loss against Saginaw Valley State Cardinals Friday, Nov. 5 and a win by the same tally in the Upper Peninsula against Lake Superior State Saturday, Nov. 6, Grand Valley State now sits at 14-12 (8-7 GLIAC).

Things got off to a rocky start Friday, Nov. 5 in Saginaw, where the Cardinals took each set without much trouble, winning by scores of 25-15, 25-20 and 25-19, bumping their record to 17-9 (10-5 GLIAC).

GVSU trailed Saginaw Valley State in every major statistical category, finding themselves outmatched in kills, digs and assists by nine as well as aces and blocks by one.

A few bright spots in the match for the Lakers were freshman Jayci Suseland, who broke out of a cold spell spanning a few matches, tallying 14 kills. Sophomores Staci Brower and Jillian Butsavich added six and five kills, respectively. Junior Katie Olson notched 19 assists and seven digs, sophomore Taylor Stewart put up 17 assists accompanied by eight digs, and sophomore Brooke Smith and senior Amanda Glaza each tallied nine digs.

The Lakers’ greatest shortcoming fell on the defensive side of the ball.

“We had some bad matchups rotational wise where they went with some of their stronger rotations and each set we had one rotation where they just scored four or five in a row,” said GVSU coach Deanne Scanlon. “Defensively I just thought we weren’t able to stop some of their bigger hitters.”

The loss to the Cardinals was the third straight for the reeling Lakers, but they were able to right the ship shortly thereafter, beating the other Lakers in the conference with ease the very next day, putting up set scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-15, setting Lake Superior State back to 3-24 (0-15 GLIAC).

During the win, GVSU employed a new one-setter formation which evidently opened up the offense along with freedom for Scanlon to substitute better to their strengths and weaknesses.

“(The change) definitely helped with our defense in the back,” Olson said. “Taylor (Stewart) took more of a defensive role and she brought a lot of energy. With one setter,it’s just one person setting to everybody else so I think we were all on the same page and that was good.”

GVSU dominated the box score, achieving 27 more points, 22 more kills, two more aces, three more blocks, 18 more assists and nine more digs than LSSU.

Leading the attack were again Brower and Suseland, who put down 13 and 12 kills. Olson, in the lone setter role, dished out 34 assists while sophomore Kendall Yerkes and Stewart each dug 11 balls.

“I think we played a lot better defense today than we did yesterday and it seemed like there were a lot less errors on our side of the net,” Suseland said following the win. “Yesterday we had a lot of errors all the way around and today we were able to limit those and perform a lot better.”

Now in a three-way tie for seventh place in the conference with only two games left on the schedule, the Lakers control their own fate as far as making the year end GLIAC tournament goes since only the top eight teams are invited.

Two teams that sit closely behind them, Hillsdale (15-11, 7-8 GLIAC) and Northwood (13-13, 4-11), will come into Allendale next weekend, and if the Lakers are able to win both of those games, they will be on their way to the GLIAC tournament.

“We’ve got to win. That’s the bottom line,” Scanlon said. “Right now it’s more about effort and playing with some enthusiasm and a ‘whatever it takes to win’ attitude.”