GV Volleyball looks to make a statement ahead of the 2021 season


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Shawn Robinson, Staff Writer

With fall sports just around the corner, the Grand Valley State University volleyball team plans to make the most out of Jason Johnson’s inaugural season as head coach.

“Getting out and competing,” Johnson said. “Even having the small bit of season last year, we enjoyed it, but it wasn’t normal. The excitement of having a preseason and a full, long season; we’re very excited to get on the court and start competing.”

Johnson will lead the team this season after 22-year former head coach Deanne Scanlon announced her retirement earlier this summer. His first priority so far: “survive the season.”

Last year, the volleyball team had an overall record of 12-4 and 11-3 in the GLIAC during their shortened season. They were able to secure a three seed in last year’s GLIAC Championship tournament but fell short of the end goal.

“I think at the end of the day, it’s about competitiveness,” Johnson said. “It’s about them bringing their best each day out on the floor, being able to work together as we progress through the season. For me, it’s all about the experience that they have as we get throughout the season and that it’s a positive one. We’ll have fun with it, but we’ll be competitive with the matches that we play.”

The Lakers roster this season consists of a few new freshmen joining the team as well as a lot of returning talent, including returning All-GLIAC junior, Ali Thompson.

“I want us to be competitive with everyone that we play,” Thompson said. “I think we have a lot of talent that we’ll see on the court but also on our bench. I’m expecting everyone to be ready at all times, and I’m excited to see us compete and what everyone can bring to the team.”

The team will look to build on their chemistry from last year and will compete at the highest level to win. Several other familiar faces will also be playing this season including All-GLIAC Blocker of the Year sophomore, Jaelianna Primus, All-GLIAC junior, Abby Graham, and Honorable mention sophomore, Karlie Kucharczyk. Their ultimate goal this season is to take home a GLIAC Conference Championship, and then the National Championship trophy.

“We’ll have some good competition, especially starting out in Colorado for our preseason tournament,” Thompson said. “Right out the gates we’re going to be challenged and see some really tough teams, but it’ll prepare us even better for down the road and help us to win a GLIAC championship.”

One of the biggest changes that a team can face—hiring a new head coach—also opens up a lot of doors to new opportunities that the program hasn’t seen yet. It starts with a positive and competitive team culture off the court so that they can impress GVSU volleyball fans on the court.

“I hope they see a competitive team that fights for each and every point,” Johnson said. “I hope they see a team that’s connected, that supports one another; we bring a lot of excitement into the gym with us and then I hope from there they see a mature team that knows how to play the game.”

The volleyball team will open their season on Sept. 3 when they start their preseason tournament in Colorado playing against four teams: University of Sioux Falls, Southwest Minnesota State University, Colorado School of Mines and Colorado Mesa University to kick off their first full-length season since 2019.