GV volleyball sweeps GLIAC rivals, extending winning streak to three games straight


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Madeleine Smith, Staff Writer

In a dominant sweep over two conference rivals, the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team defeated Purdue University Northwest (PNW), 3-0 and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 3-1.

The Sept. 16 face-off against PNW ended in three sets in favor of the Lakers, as each set finished 25-12, 25-22 and 25-18.

During the first set, the Lakers were able to go on several unanswered scoring runs that prevented PNW from building a comeback with several Lakers making their presence known.

In the second set, GVSU quickly gained a 5-0 lead and would soon increase it to 11-2. However, this is when PNW was able to mount a comeback as they forced a 5-12 run against the Lakers, creating a back-and-forth affair that would ultimately be ended by GVSU with two kills by senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson and freshman setter Jordyn Gates.

Expanding on the newfound momentum from the second set PNW came out on a quick 1-4 lead in the third set. However, once the set reached a 14-15 score in favor of PNW, the Lakers came together and rallied back with a vicious 10-3 run to close out the match in three sets.

“We had to make some lineup changes late in the match on Friday which also carried over to Saturday,” head coach Jason Johnson said. “With these changes, our players adapted well.”

Freshman outside hitter Kendall Stover (12) led the team in kills, as both Thompson (11) and Gates (nine) followed closely behind. Junior setter Rachel Jacquay (21) and Gates (20) also controlled the offensive attack by leading the team in assists. 

The following day consisted of a match against the Parkside Rangers, as each set finished 25-19, 25-23, 23-25 and 25-18.

“We played with a high intensity the whole weekend,” freshman middle hitter Carley Baughman said. “After our loss to Northern Michigan last week, we felt pressure to succeed. We didn’t let up and ultimately won both games.”

Fueled by a great deal of confidence, GVSU seemingly controlled the match against the Rangers as they sat on a two-set lead heading into the third. However, Parkside found its stride as they would ultimately force a fourth set to finish out the match.

“After that third set we had to regroup,” Baughman said. “We knew what needed to be done, so we made some adjustments that led to the fourth set win.”

Thompson led the team once more with 14 kills and 21 digs, with Gates (12 kills, 17 digs) and junior middle blocker Sarah Wight (11 kills) adding to the box score. Gates and Jacquay continue to be leaders on offense as both Lakers posted 26 and 21 assists respectively. 

“The highlight of the weekend came from Sarah Wight, who led our team both with her offense and blocking,” Johnson said. “She was also asked to serve and play a rotation in the back row, which is new for her. She did both really well.”

Riding a three-game win streak after 12 road games in a row, the Lakers are going to get their first taste of home-court advantage in their next bout. At the same time, the team recognizes how much of an impact road games can have on the outcome of a match, especially Baughman.

“Both games were challenging, but I do think the Parkside game was a bit more difficult,” Baughman exclaimed. “It’s always hard when you’re away for so many games. However, I do think as a team we were able to keep a clear mind and we ultimately ended up with two w’s.”

As a transfer student coming into a new system, Thompson has already made her mark as a significant piece of the team’s overall success. Johnson is well aware of how important her leadership is to help build a sense of belonging amongst the squad.

“She wasn’t asked to lead, but she has grown into that role because of her work ethic, experience and willingness to mentor some of our younger players,” Johnson said.

The Lakers now stand at fourth overall in the GLIAC standings with a 9-3 record. Their next match will be the first home game for the Lakers against cross-town rival Davenport University on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.