Lakers keep rolling as GV volleyball dominates in UIndy Invite


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Jason Millis, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team traveled to Indiana for the UIndy Invitational Sept. 2, ending the two-day road trip with a 3-1 record.

The Lakers closed the first day with a perfect record (2-0), as they swept Bentley University 3-0 and defeated regional opponent Ohio Dominican University 3-1.

In the match against Bentley, the Lakers were able to control the pace early with a 25-14 first set win. However, the Falcons began to show a bit more promise in the next two sets, but would ultimately fall short as both the second and third finished 25-22 in favor of GVSU.

Freshman setter Jordyn Gates and freshman outside hitter Kendall Stover led the team with nine kills a piece, as junior middle blocker Sarah Wight followed with seven kills of her own. Junior setter Rachel Jacquay also contributed to the offensive pace with 20 assists and sophomore libero Julia Blaney led the defense with 17 digs.

“We had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Gates said. “We wish we could have handled the game against Gannon (University last week) a little better. Today, we focused on getting one point at a time and we came out on top.”

The Lakers kept their momentum into their match against Ohio Dominican, taking the first two sets 25-7 and 25-15. Ohio Dominican was able to prevent another GVSU sweep, taking the third set 20-25 before the Lakers took the match 25-13 in the fourth.

Head coach Jason Johnson felt the Lakers showed improvement from the previous week, but still have work to do. The further into the match, the more errors the Lakers made, which Johnson thought cost them the third set in the Ohio Dominican match.

“We’re starting off really well in the first sets, but then our hitting efficiency goes down in each set,” Johnson said. “That needs to get better. Our opponents are figuring out the things we’re doing and that makes things more difficult for our side of the net.”

Junior middle blocker Jaelianna Primus credits the chemistry between her teammates for recovering from the lost set and putting the match away.

“Even when things are going sideways, chemistry helps us lean on each other,” Primus said. “We trust each other to pull us out of any ruts we get into. Our connections and our relationships are what help us be successful.”

Stover, Primus and Gates led the Laker offense with 12, 11 and 10 kills in that respective order. Blaney totaled 25 digs in the second match, followed by Gates with 13 and Stover with nine.

On the second day of the road trip, the Lakers opened their first of two matches with a 1-3 loss to Minnesota Duluth, an opponent that now sits at 7-0 on the season. The sets finished 20-25, 19-25, 25-16 and 18-25. 

Even in the loss, Stover, (11) Wight (9) and senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson (9) led the offensive attack in kills as Jacquay (21) and Gates (16) put forth effort in the assists column to give the Lakers a fighting chance.

GVSU would turn their loss around within a matter of hours against the Minnesota State Mavericks in a three-set sweep. 

Blaney once again led the team in digs (12), as Stover (14) Gates (10) and Primus (9) would seal a .75% win percentage in back-to-back invites for the Lakers. 

Despite having two losses this season, GVSU has its fair share of inexperience on the team. The adjustments that come with losing and adding new players might make it difficult to work together and get along for some teams, but the Lakers are working together like a well-oiled machine.

“Over the summer we built a great team dynamic, so moving into the fall we’re really confident,” Gates said. “We have a lot of strong players and good depth on the bench. We’re super excited because we do have that really good team chemistry.”

Even though the Lakers are a close-knit team, Johnson knows they still have room for improvement in order to continue finding success on the court.

“They’ve stayed connected and they work hard,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had a bad day in practice all preseason, but we are inexperienced and it shows in the way we play at times with some of the errors and mistakes we make. They’re a good team with some inexperience that just have to learn how to win now.”

GVSU will continue their 12-straight road game journey as they travel to Marquette to begin conference play Friday, Sept. 9. against the Northern Michigan Wildcats.