GV volleyball splits final two home games


GVL / Bethann Long

Madeleine Smith, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s women’s volleyball rounded out the last weekend of regular-season play in a competitive loss against Wayne State University (1-3) and a rebound match against Saginaw Valley State University (3-1).

The Nov. 4 match was Senior Night for the Lakers as five players were recognized prior to the start of the match; outside hitters Savannah Thompson, Karlie Kucharczyk and Camille Hurta, middle blockers Jaelianna Primus and Mattie McCabe.

When asked about what these players have meant to the program, head coach Jason Johnson said he’s impressed with everything these girls have endured throughout their time with the Lakers.

Having to navigate college and being a student-athlete throughout all of the protocols, and then for them to transition from one head coach to another (isn’t easy),” Johnson said. “They’ve done an amazing job of bringing positivity to the floor as well as being positive influences for our younger players as well.”

GVSU began the first set with a 3-0 lead against the Warriors, but would soon lose their momentum with Wayne State taking control in a 4-12 run as GVSU wouldn’t be able to regain the lead and dropped the set, 15-25.

Wayne State expanded on their momentum and broke out the second set with a 3-10 run prior to the Lakers making a substitution in hopes to prevent the deficit from getting completely out of hand. The sub seemed to be effective as GVSU went on a strong 9-5 run of their own to cut the deficit to within three points. However, the energy spurt wouldn’t last as the Warriors regained control and didn’t allow the Lakers to come within four points (14-18) as they eventually went up 0-2 with a 15-25 win.

With the potential of being swept for the second meeting of the season (0-3 Sept. 24), the Lakers came together in the third set with a small turnaround. 

The set was once more taken over by the Warriors as they built a 2-6 lead, but GVSU was able to persevere and make a valiant 6-1 run to take an 8-7 lead of their own as the remainder of the set would be a back-and-forth clash.

Wayne State held a 17-21 lead as they sat four points away from closing out the match entirely, but the Lakers wouldn’t allow themselves to be swept on their home court and overcame a resounding 8-2 push (25-23) to force a fourth set.

GVSU would once again start the set with three unanswered points but would soon be figured out as the Warriors regained the lead at the 5-6 marker and never lost it. 

As the Lakers made several attempts to make a heroic comeback, Wayne State never allowed their lead to dwindle down to three points and was able to close the match on a 2-4 run and take set four, 20-25.

Freshman outside hitter Kendall Stover led the team in kills with 18 and nine digs as freshman setter Jordyn Gates was the only other Laker to finish in double digits for kills (11, 24 assists, six digs).

With the potential of finishing the regular season on a higher note and close out the season series at 2-0 against the Cardinals, the arena was buzzing with anticipation on Nov. 5.

A 3-7 run by SVSU would be the largest lead created by the opponent as the Lakers came back and forced a back-and-forth battle all the way down to the wire. Five lead changes ensued as the scoreboard read 24-24, but the Cardinals would ultimately go on a two-score run to close out the first set and take a 0-1 lead.

Dropping another first set at home was a significant energy booster for the Lakers as their efforts on the offensive attack increased as GVSU created a 22-17 lead in the second set and would only allow one more point by SVSU as it finished 25-18.

The Lakers came out hot to start the third with a 6-1 run, but the Cardinals didn’t fret as they managed to pull back into the game to make it yet another tug of war game for the lead. Tied at 24 each yet again, GVSU learned from their mistakes from the first and managed to close out strong to take the match lead, 2-1.

SVSU did its best to force a fifth set as they managed to stay within striking distance up until the 11-9 marker. From there, GVSU dominated the remainder of the set as they didn’t allow the opponent to come within four points and closed out the match with a set four win, 25-18.

Stover led the team once more in kills (15) as Kucharczyk (13), Gates (13) and Primus (10) added to the huge win as well.

The defensive efforts in each set were crucial to the Lakers pulling out their final win at home, while Stover (23), sophomore libero Julia Blaney (19), Johnson (14) and Gates (10) added big numbers to the team’s total digs on the night (87).

Although their record wasn’t necessarily what they hoped to finish with for the regular season, Johnson said the team stayed together through the toughest moments, and more importantly the highest of the season.

“Through the ups and downs, the wins and losses, they have stayed very connected throughout the season,” Johnson said. “Outside of that, part of the ups and downs is the youthfulness of the team. We’ve got five new starters out on the court – three of them being freshmen. So there’s a lot of youthful exuberance that goes out on the floor.”

With a final regular-season record of 17-12 (10-8 in conference), the Lakers clinched the final spot in the GLIAC Tournament as their quarterfinals matchup is yet to be determined for Wednesday, Nov. 9.