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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV Volleyball takes all four games in Downtown Classic

GVL / Macayla Cramer

The Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team finished off a dominant performance at the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Classic with a 3-0 win against Ursuline College (0-5).

After taking their first match in a 3-0 sweep of Colorado Christian on Thursday, the Lakers (6-0)  used that momentum to carry them to three straight wins, bringing their record on the weekend to 4-0, losing just one set together along the way.

The Friday games were anticipated to be tougher, as Tiffin University (3-1) and Clarion University (5-0) were the only two teams with above .500 records that the Lakers would face coming into the event. Tiffin turned out to be the toughest matchup as they handed the Lakers their first, and only, lost set of the season (28-26).

“Defensively Tiffin is a better team. I think the way that they play put us under pressure, and it was the first time all season where we were pushed,” said Lakers’ Volleyball Head Coach Jason Johnson.

To no avail, the Lakers took sets one (25-13), three (25-18) and four (25-17) in the 3-1 win. Senior Sarah Wight led the team in kills (15) and blocks (6) in another strong showing, as Jordyn Gates contributed a monster triple-double with 14 kills, 22 assists and 24 digs. Gates led the nation in triple doubles last season with 13.

Clarion was expected to be a bigger test as an undefeated team, but led by senior Rachel Jacquay’s 27 assists, the Lakers controlled the game in its entirety by sweeping the win in sets of 25-11, 25-10 and 25-17.

GVSU saw a lot of familiar faces, including Jacquay, contributing big time this weekend. However, one redshirt freshman stood out in some of her first extensive action of the season. Brianna Stawski put up games of six, seven, 10 and 10 kills.

“I think it was like my coach has said, the carrot was dangling super far in the future but I just had my eye on it,” Stawski said.

Stawski will look to contribute as a “key piece” up front this season as she also tallied six blocks in the game against Ursuline.

“The blocking is what has gotten her on the floor all the way through preseason, but the offense is starting to come around again,” Johnson said. “What she’s earned was the opportunity to be out there by performing at the level that she does every day.” 

In their final game of the event, GVSU began the first set with a 5-1 lead against the Arrows, dominating from then on out as Stawski alone put up five kills,  helping the Lakers take it 25-10. The GVSU offense then went on a 7-0 run to close out the second set winning 25-12. The success continued into the third, when Stawski had an explosive kill on the first point, energizing the team, propelling them to a 25-14 win on the set to complete the 3-0 sweep. Stawski led the team in kills (10) for her first time this season. 

Johnson likes his team’s mentality as they head into conference play this upcoming week off the back of their 6-0 record.

“There is a focus and toughness that the team has right now that was strengthened this weekend,” Johnson said.

Additionally, Johnson was happy that many bench players who don’t normally get play were able to go in.

“Anytime you can get more of your roster opportunities to play it will always benefit them down the road,” Johnson said.

This weekend was also the first series playing together on the home court for sisters Madison Gates (graduate transfer) and Jordyn Gates (junior).

“It was kinda surreal, ya know. We played one year in high school together and we kinda figured that was the end of it,” said Jordyn Gates.

Both sisters were dominant high school players in the area for Grand Rapids Christian, where they played for their mom Tiffanie Gates, earning division one scholarships to Purdue University Fort Wayne (Madison Gates) and Arkansas University (Jordyn Gates), before transferring to GVSU to come back home.

The Lakers will move into conference play looking to build on their momentum as they take on the Michigan Tech Huskies in Houghton. Mich. on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. 

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About the Contributor
Nelson Hubbell
Nelson Hubbell, Sports Editor
Nelson Hubbell is the Sports Editor for the Lanthorn for the 2023-2024 school year. A senior at Grand Valley State University, before his time with the Lanthorn, he was a staff writer for The Collegiate Live, Grand Rapids Community College's student publication where he was a student for two years. He worked for a restaurant for four and a half years in Holland, Mich. called Hops at 84 East, a place he holds close to his heart. During his time there he was a manager for roughly two years. He loves camping, hiking and being outside in general. He is super passionate about football, basketball, baseball and hockey and loves all things sports and competition. Nelson will be pursuing a career in sportscasting as a play-by-play broadcaster and or as an analyst after his time at GVSU. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Multimedia Journalism