Sept. 13, 2013
Golden, Colo. - On Sept. 2, 2012, the Grand Valley State volleyball team won a pair of five-set matches on the same day for the first time in nearly 25 years. On Friday night (Sept. 13), GVSU pulled off the rare feat again, notching five-set victories over Texas Woman's and a dramatic comeback win against #6 Washburn.
The Lakers used different performances to win each of the five-set battles. GVSU won sets one, two, and five to knock off Texas Woman's (25-13, 25-19, 22-25, 19-25, 15-10) in its opening match of the Oredigger Classic in Golden, Colo. Against #6 Washburn on Friday night, Grand Valley State picked up wins in sets two, four, and five to bounce the Ichabods (19-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-20, 15-13).
With the victories, GVSU improves to 4-2 on the season, as the Lakers went 2-2 at last weekend's season-opening tournament in Allendale. After the matches, Texas Woman's fell to 3-2, while Washburn is 4-2 this year.
It is the second time this season that Grand Valley State has defeated a top-10 team; last weekend Southwest Minnesota State was also ranked #6 when the Lakers claimed the 3-1 victory. The win over Washburn is a huge one, as the Ichabods have been ranked in the AVCA top-10 in every poll since the start of the 2009 season - a streak of 53 straight weeks.
GVSU used an outstanding .393 hitting percentage to dominate Texas Woman's in the opening set. The Lakers used three kills in four points from senior Megan Schroeder to lead 10-3 and rolled to the 25-13 win. Leading 11-9 in the second set, Grand Valley State put together a 7-2 run to open up an 18-11 cushion. While TWU would close to within 23-20, the Lakers closed out the set and took a 2-0 lead.
Set three was the closest and most competitive frame of the match, with the score being tied seven times and also featuring five lead changes. Texas Woman's took an 11-9 lead and never relinquished that advantage, finishing off the set with consecutive points to win 25-22. In the fourth stanza, a 6-2 run after the score was tied at 10-10, TWU pushed the match to a pivotal fifth set by winning 25-19.
Grand Valley State, however, stopped all momentum by opening the fifth set with a 7-1 lead. Junior Abby Aiken served during five of those points, including back-to-back aces to open a 5-1 cushion. A service error by Texas Woman's made the score 14-10 and Ally Simmons' kill closed out the five-set thriller in GVSU's favor.
Offensively, the Lakers dominated TWU. In terms of kills, Grand Valley State led by a wide 68-43 margin and owned a large edge in attack percentage, .220 to .137. While Texas Woman's blocked more shots (7-4), GVSU led in digs, 79-68.
Three Lakers tallied more kills than Texas Woman's as a team. Senior Megan Schroeder notched a match-best 16 kills, while Aiken added 15 kills, nine digs, three aces, and three blocks. Sophomore Betsy Ronda provided 14 kills and picked up 17 digs. Junior libero Christina Canepa scooped up 22 digs, while setter Kaitlyn Wolters neared a triple-double with 54 assists, 12 digs, and seven kills (without an error for a .583 hitting percentage).
Washburn controlled most of the opening set against GVSU, but the Lakers did not make it easy on the Ichabods, keeping the score close at 19-16 before WU pulled away. The second set was tremendous, seeing 11 tie scores and five lead changes. With the score knotted for the 11th time at 24-24, Simmons and Ronda notched back-to-back kills (both assisted by Wolters) and evened the match at one set apiece.
A tight third set went to Washburn, as the Ichabods used an 8-6 run after leading 17-16. The Lakers would not be deterred, turning a 10-9 deficit in set four to a 14-11 lead behind the serving of freshman Nicayla Joyce. GVSU held an advantage the rest of the stanza and used a Rachel Dickerson service ace and a WU attack error to force the fifth set.
Earlier on Friday, Washburn dropped a five-set contest to #22 Central Washington, so both teams were heading into their 10th sets of the day. Washburn looked as if it was going to close out GVSU, owning leads of 9-6 and 12-8 in the fifth frame. Three straight points - a Josie Werner kill, a block by Aiken and Werner, and a Schroeder kill - made the score 12-11.
Werner and Dickerson - two freshmen - combined for a big block to knot the score at 13-13. Aiken then delivered a kill, prompting a Washburn timeout. With the 14-13 lead, Grand Valley State forced a hitting error from the Ichabods and celebrated its second win over ranked team this season.
The teams were very even on the stat sheet, as GVSU (59 kills, .147 hitting percentage) and Washburn (63, .144) were similar in most categories. Grand Valley State owned slight edges in digs (92-90), assists (59-58), blocks (14-10), and aces (6-3).
GVSU was led by sophomore Kaleigh Lound, who tallied team-bests of 13 kills and six blocks. Lound committed just two hitting errors for a .423 attack clip and three of her blocks were solo rejections. Schroeder added 12 kills, while Aiken earned a double-double of 13 digs and 11 kills. Ronda's line showed seven kills, six digs, four aces, and three blocks.
Canepa controlled the defense to the tune of 28 digs, while Joyce added 15 pickups. Wolters was again superb, delivering 51 assists and recording 19 digs.
The Lakers will play twice on Saturday, facing Fort Lewis at 12:00 p.m. ET before going against another top-25 team, #22 Central Washington, at 4:30 p.m. ET.