Women’s volleyball finishes three-game week at 1-2


GVL / Sydney Lim

Madeleine Smith, Staff Writer

In their first two home games of the season after an extensive 12-game road trip, the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team faced off against Davenport University and Saginaw Valley State, finishing the two-game home stand at 1-1. 

The Lakers had momentum going into the match against DU on Sept. 20 as they rode a three-game win streak and looked to entertain an excited home crowd. 

However, the cross-town rival would ultimately be too much for GVSU this time around, as they were only able to take the first of a four-set match; 25-23, 18-25, 22-25 and 16-25.

Even in the disappointing home-opening loss, effort and resilience were focal points for the Lakers as they hustled for every possible offensive attack. GVSU’s cheeky front-line play in the first set saw kills landing just inbounds and tipped shots that kept the Panthers guessing.

The first set saw a two-point difference in favor of the Lakers, which was likely a telling sign for what was to come in the next three sets.

Although GVSU was unable to secure another set victory, hustle plays were evident. What should have been a point for the Panthers in the second set turned into the Lakers making a phenomenal save, in which the ball ricocheted towards the back bleachers, somehow was saved by the Lakers’ back row players and put back into play for the front line to send the ball back over to the opponent’s side.

Unfortunately, the Lakers’ efforts would not be enough to overcome the Panthers’ fierce play as the next three sets would fall in favor of the opponent.

Outside hitter Kendall Stover has established herself early as one of the prominent offensive leaders for the Lakers this season as she led the team with 19 kills, a career-high for the freshman.

“When anyone gets a great kill during the game, it feels like a fire in the soul,” Stover said. “It’s one of the best feelings. My strategy is always to not only get the kill but to put my team in a better position for defense and just tooling the blockers.”

Senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson (11) and junior middle blocker Sarah Wight (nine) also produced plenty of kills, as freshman setter Jordyn Gates and junior setter Rachel Jacquay led the offense with 21 assists each.

Jacquay (16), Gates (17) and sophomore libero Emily Holbrook (15) also made it difficult for the opposing team to put points on the board as they led their team in digs.

Head coach Jason Johnson anticipated a tough go against Davenport walking into the match. Johnson said that the team expected some issues on the offensive attack due to the DU’s dominant players facing up at the net.

“I don’t think there were any surprises,” Johnson said. “Davenport has two very high-level attackers. I think we did pretty good for about a set and a half and then we got into some trouble. Their size and their physicality just became a problem for us.”

Following the tough home-opener defeat, the Lakers were scheduled to face Saginaw Valley State in their second home game just a few days later (Sept. 23).

Stover gave her thoughts on the match prior to its start, mentioning that the upsetting loss against DU will be fuel for their next test against another conference opponent.

“(This weekend) will be a real test and we are going to have to compete,” Stover said. “But that’s what we live for. It’s not gonna be easy, but we are ready.”

Johnson also gave his thoughts prior to the match, mentioning their next opponent isn’t one to produce many mistakes.

“Saginaw is playing really well right now, they’ve got a group that doesn’t make a lot of errors,” Johnson said. “It’s gonna be a team that we’re gonna have to work and grind out points for.”

The Lakers came out and proved exactly that as they swept SVS in a three-set match, taking each one 25-21, 25-17 and 25-20.

Thompson, Wight and junior middle blocker Jaelianna Primus led the team in kills with 15, 12 and 10 respectively. 

Jacquay and Gates pushed the offensive attack once more (19 assists each) as Holbrook (14), Thompson (13) and Gates (8) prevented the opponent from scoring with their efforts in the digs column.

Following their win against SVS, the Lakers faced off against Wayne State University on Saturday, Sept. 24 on the road and were ultimately swept 0-3 by the Warriors; 14-25, 16-25 and 15-25.

With this loss, GVSU is now 10-5 overall on the season and 4-5 in conference action.

The Lakers’ next time out will be at home as they face off against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside for the second time this season (won first match 3-1). The match is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.