Nov. 10, 2012
Allendale, Mich. - Grand Valley State put together a dominating performance on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 10) in Allendale to the tune of a 3-1 victory over visiting Hillsdale. The Lakers dropped the opening set 25-22 before steamrolling their way to wins in the final three sets, 25-14, 25-12, and 25-15. GVSU's .389 hitting percentage was its best attack clip of the season.
The Lakers responded very well after dropping a four-set contest to Northwood on Friday night (Nov. 9). With the victory, GVSU closes the regular season with a 23-6 record and a 13-5 GLIAC mark. It appears that Grand Valley State will be the #3 seed in next week's GLIAC Tournament. Hillsdale drops to 15-14 overall, but the Chargers are 11-7 in conference play.
Entering this weekend, GVSU was the fourth-ranked team in the Midwest Regional rankings, while Hillsdale was ranked sixth in the region. Last season, the Chargers advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
Grand Valley State's offense was tremendous on Saturday, hitting .500 or better in two of the four sets (.500 in set two and .515 in the fourth set). The team recorded 16, 16, 13, and 19 kills, respectively, for the match. The .389 hitting percentage was GVSU's highest since hitting .398 against Michigan Tech on Oct. 21, 2011.
The Laker defense also held Hillsdale to a .148 hitting percentage, which including a -.034 mark in set two and a -.023 clip in the third stanza. Both teams recorded seven blocks, but GVSU's defense picked up 66 digs to just 48 for the Chargers. Grand Valley State's 64 kills easily outdistanced the 40 putaways for Hillsdale.
Set one was easily the tightest-played stanza of the afternoon, with 14 ties and eight lead changes. With the score tied at 18-18, Hillsdale notched four of the next six points to lead 22-20. GVSU pulled within 23-22 on a kill from senior Eno Umoh, but a Hillsdale kill, followed by an ace, gave the Chargers a 25-22 win in the opening set.
The hometown Lakers answered well in the second set, pushing out to a 14-9 lead with consecutive kills from junior Megan Schroeder and freshman Betsy Ronda. On top 19-13, Grand Valley state scored four straight points, including kills from Schroeder and junior Abby Ebels, to take a 23-13 lead. GVSU would even the match at one set apiece after ending the frame on back-to-back kills from sophomore Abby Aiken and Schroeder once again. In set two, the Lakers put down 16 kills and just three errors with Schroeder tallying a kill in all five of her swings.
GVSU led 8-6 in the third set, but what happened next changed the entire feel of the match. The Lakers rattled off 12 consecutive points, all with Ronda serving, and pushed out to an unfathomable 20-6 cushion. Ronda started the run with a kill and added three service aces. Umoh recorded three kills and two blocks during the 12-point spurt, while Aiken added a pair of kills, as well. Grand Valley State would finish the set with a 25-12 victory.
In the fourth set, the score was 12-11 in GVSU's favor before an 8-1 run by the Lakers upped the advantage to 20-12. Ronda put away four kills during the run, all assisted from sophomore setter Clair Ruhenkamp. Grand Valley State pushed ahead to 24-15 when redshirt junior Sam Phillips, honored before the match on the team's Senior Day, fittingly ended the contest with a kill, dished to her from sophomore libero Christina Canepa. Phillips intends to graduate in the spring, so Saturday's match was the last regular season home contest of her career, as well.
Umoh, the team's only other senior, put forth one of the best matches of her career. She notched a match-high and career-high with 18 kills, hitting .500 for the contest in 30 attacks. She added four digs, three blocks, and an ace. Schroeder was outstanding, as well, as she supplied 15 kills in just 20 swings for a .700 attack percentage. Schroeder committed just one hitting error during the match.
Aiken provided 13 kills and a .267 hitting percentage, while Ronda totaled a match-best 17 digs, 11 kills, and three of the Lakers' seven aces. Three other GVSU players reached double-digits in digs, including Ruhenkamp (11) and juniors Sacha Gill and Lyndsey Holt (10 apiece). Ruhenkamp's 57 assists were her second-highest total of the season.
The opening round of the GLIAC Tournament takes place on Wednesday night, with GVSU earning the right to host a quarterfinal match. It is very likely that the Lakers and Hillsdale will square off for the second time in five days in that match. Stay tuned to gvsulakers.com for the time and opponent of the contest, when it is confirmed by the conference office.