GVSU volleyball opens season with weekend series split, 2-2 record

GVL / Luke Holmes - Katie Olson (9) sets the ball. GVSU volleyball defeated Northwood in three games in the Fieldhouse Arena on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Katie Olson (9) sets the ball. GVSU volleyball defeated Northwood in three games in the Fieldhouse Arena on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

Jake Carroll

The Grand Valley State women’s volleyball team took its annual trip to Big Rapids, Michigan, on Friday, Sept. 1, hopeful that by the end of the day the team would come out undefeated. However, that wasn’t the case for the Lakers.

After losing their two games to Northwest Missouri State and Upper Iowa, the Lakers seemed to buckle down and regroup for the second day of contests.Their games Saturday, Sept. 2, against Missouri Western State and Cedarville University went almost entirely the way they wanted them to. They won both games 3-0 and returned to Allendale victorious.

But what caused the sudden spark? What caused GVSU to drop the first two games of their weekend? Senior starter Katie Olson attributed their struggles to something a bit surprising: Brooke Smith, an integral part of the Laker volleyball team, had to leave the team.

“Losing one of our starting players, Brooke, to the Marines was hard,” Olson said.

Brooke Smith, the player who finished second in digs, third in kills, fifth in assists and fifth in serving aces, is no longer a part of the GVSU women’s volleyball team. Instead, she decided to head on over to the Marines.

“(Brooke’s) dad got a call on Tuesday saying that there was a spot open and if Brooke wanted to go,” Olson said. “She talked it over with her parents on Wednesday, and on Thursday she showed up and let us all know that she would be going to the Marines in two weeks.”

Smith is a hard player to lose, especially on such short notice. She was a starter and a leader on the floor, so the entire team understands her role on the team will be hard to replace.

GVSU volleyball coach Deanne Scanlon attributed the struggles Friday to something different than the usual excuses. She dismissed the idea that the losses could be because of nerves or excitement for the first two games of the season.

“The other teams are playing their first two games of the season, also, so I don’t see that as an excuse,” Scanlon said. “We just made way too many errors. I think we’re just a little hesitant with how we’re playing.”

Ask any athlete, coach or fan, and they will all say that simple errors can either make or break a game. Errors are like cigarettes: If you don’t limit them, they will eventually start doing some real damage.

However, Scanlon was impressed with how the team bounced back during the competition that took place Saturday. Both MWS and Cedarville are regional games, so they were that much more important to the team.

“I think we realized that we couldn’t lose anymore,” said sophomore Jayci Suseland. “We knew that if we lost to Cedarville, it was harder for us to get into regionals.”

GVSU women’s volleyball will take a trip to Indianapolis for a four-game stint Friday, Sept. 8, and Saturday, Sept. 9.