GVSU’s Ronda adapts after battling injuries

GVL / Archive
Betsy Ronda

GVL / Archive Betsy Ronda

Tate Baker

The Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball program has had 52 All-GLIAC student athletes in its 45-year history, but only one of them in particular was able to earn All-GLIAC First Team honors as a freshman.

Betsy Ronda burst onto the scene in 2012 during her freshman campaign and made an immediate impact for GVSU. Ronda, who had been recruited by a number of NCAA Division I teams after a successful career at East Grand Rapids High School, lit up opponents on a nightly basis. She led the Lakers in kills (390) and aces (32) on her way to becoming the GLIAC Freshman of the Year.

As a sophomore, she came in as one of the most highly regarded players in the conference, no longer flying under the radar. Unfortunately, her production would falter as she faced injury after injury – including abdominal and wrist injuries early in the season – which set her back both physically and mentally.

“Mentally it was the most I’ve ever struggled,” said Ronda, who is now a junior. “Not being able to perform at the level that you’re used to. Reflecting back on my sophomore year, it was a really good learning experience to have to battle through several injuries both mentally and physically.”

Making adjustments to a particular style of play in order to stay healthy is something many third and fourth year student athletes go through. For Ronda, the change of mentality is going to better suit her in the long run, GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon said.

“The risk that you run with Betsy is that she just knows one thing, and that’s go as hard as you can at all times,” Scanlon said. “We have a veteran team that includes five seniors and, her included, they just don’t need as many reps in practice.

“They have to know whether or not they should take themselves out of a drill or let someone else step in. Any athlete experiences this once they get into their third or fourth year.”

Despite having an injury-riddled season, Ronda overcame the adversity. She still managed to rank second in the GLIAC in service aces (45), 12th in total points (379.5) and 13th in total kills (307).

She also helped her team win the GLIAC Championship and earned GLIAC All-Tournament Team honors along the way.

“The perseverance that she showed throughout the season last year was remarkable,” said sophomore Nicayla Joyce. “She just kept fighting the entire season and really came up big for us when it mattered most.”

Through the ups and down’s of her second year at GVSU, Ronda’s sophomore season would end in heartbreaking fashion. The Lakers lost a five-set thriller in the regional championship to rival Ferris State University.

“I’m excited to see what all our team can do this year,” she said. “Last year we did a lot of great things, but in the end we fell short. This year I expect us to build off of our accomplishments from last season and be even better.”

As Betsy Ronda goes, so does the Laker volleyball team, and now that she’s healthy again, it certainly appears as though she has the potential to once again compete with the GLIAC’s elite.

“When she’s at her best, both mentally and physically, she’s not only one of the best players on this team but in the entire conference,” Joyce said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if she ended up on the All-GLIAC team once again.”