Women’s volleyball finds momentum in three-game week


GVL / Macayla Cramer

Madeleine Smith, Staff Writer

In another competitive week of close-scoring matches, the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team took on three conference opponents that finished 2-1 overall. 

The Lakers played on Oct. 25 (Davenport University), Oct. 28 (Ferris State) and Oct. 29 (Lake Superior State), all of which resulted 3-1, 1-3 and 3-1 respectively.

GVSU mustered a 3-1 redemption match against the crosstown rival Davenport as the previous matchup was dropped 1-3 at home. This time around, the Lakers found themselves on the offensive attack and the defensive blocks as the only set loss was by three points.

The first set started well as the Lakers came out hot and created an 8-4 lead early. However, the Panthers would respond as the set continued to be a back-and-forth battle up to the 20-16 mark.

Going on a 1-4 run, the Panthers looked as if they might come from behind and steal the set, but the Lakers didn’t fold and eventually took the first set, 25-20.

The second set looked as if Davenport would tie up the match as they maintained a lead for the most part. That was until GVSU was down 18-20 and made a commanding 7-1 run to stun their opponent and take a 2-0 lead.

Facing a 3-0 sweep at home, the Panthers managed to make a resurgence and ultimately take the third set 22-25 to redeem themselves and extend the match to another set.

However, the set loss didn’t phase the Lakers as they would go on to close out the opponent in another close set win, 25-21.

Freshman setter Jordyn Gates did an exceptional job of leading her team in the match, totaling 15 kills, 27 assists, 16 digs and four blocks. Freshman Kendall Stover also added 14 kills and five digs while junior Sara Wight and freshman Meghan O’Sullivan added nine kills each.

“We have this little thing where we play for someone else on the team and the idea of not playing for just yourself but for your teammates as well and being there for each other,” Wight said. “I think that’s a big part of our success.”

Unable to defeat the Bulldogs at home earlier this season (1-3), the Lakers traveled to Big Rapids in an attempt to redeem themselves in this match as well.

However, the No. 1 ranked opponent proved why they have positioned themselves comfortably at the top of the GLIAC leaderboards as they managed to overtake the Lakers’ 8-3 lead and finish out the first set 20-25 in their favor.

GVSU rebounded in the second tremendously, taking a 12-5 lead at one point and not allowing the Bulldogs to bring their deficit back within four points as they took the set 25-18.

This would be the first and only set the Lakers managed to take but still managed to put up a solid fight against the tough opponent. The third set was another dog fight as GVSU mounted a 4-11 deficit and took two separate leads (16-15, 17-16) but would eventually finish 23-25 in favor of Ferris State.

Facing a 1-2 match deficit and the potential of being sent home with a season sweep, the Lakers did their best to capitalize on their three leads at different points of the set (6-4, 10-8, 28-27) but the valiant effort to push to a fifth set ended in heartbreak as the Bulldogs closed the set and the match, 28-30.

Wight led the team this time out with 17 kills, Stover and Gates added 16 and 13 respectively, while the team total ended in 65 points.

“As far as the games (finish), they had the same outcomes, but I think we put up a better fight this time, where in the first game we kinda lacked energy,” Wight said. “Our errors just got in the way but it was a great fight this time around.”

In the last game of the three-match week, the Lakers were tested against a team that has only seen five total wins the entire season in Lake Superior State. Lake Superior came out with a stunning first-set win that finished 17-25 after building an 11-16 lead and capitalizing on it.

Shaken up by the statement set win, the Lakers collected themselves and put on a fierce set win and took the second set 25-14. The third set was a back-and-forth battle as the lead changed seven different times, but GVSU held their own and closed it out 25-21 to take a 2-1 match lead and head into the fourth with momentum in their favor.

“I think we were really scrappy on defense and we were able to get a lot of balls up, so that was awesome on our part,” Wight said. 

Set four was another close one until the Lakers utilized a 5-0 scoring run to go up 17-14, a lead they would hold the rest of the way as it ultimately finished with GVSU closing out the set and the match with three unanswered points.

Gates had another phenomenal performance, as she tallied 13 kills, 22 assists and 10 digs. Seniors Mattie McCabe (10 kills, six blocks) and Savannah Thompson (11 kills, 11 digs) were also influential while junior Rachel Jacquay dished out 27 assists and 15 digs.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Bingham, a solid role player off the bench, came in for the final three sets and recorded 11 digs and a service ace (one kill).

With a far better showing this last week, the Lakers are now 16-11 overall and are ranked No. 6 in the GLIAC standings.

The team will finish the regular season with back-to-back home games against Wayne State (Nov. 4) and Saginaw Valley State (Nov. 5) starting at 6 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.