Oct. 25, 2012
Allendale, Mich. - Grand Valley State returns to Allendale for the first time in nearly three weeks, as the Lakers welcome a pair of schools from the Upper Peninsula this weekend. GVSU will host Northern Michigan this Friday night (Oct. 26) before facing Michigan Tech on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 27).
The Lakers are in the midst of their best winning streak of the season and longest streak since winning 17 straight matches in 2010. Grand Valley State has won its last nine contests, with seven of those victories being of the 3-0 variety. Sitting in fourth place in the GLIAC, the Lakers are 18-4 overall and 8-3 in league play. GVSU sports an impressive 8-1 home record this season.
A balanced attack is getting it done on both sides of the ball for Grand Valley State. The Lakers rank second in the GLIAC in both kills (13.49) and assists (12.38) per set, while owning a .228 hitting percentage, fourth-best in the league. Defensively, GVSU is holding opponents to a .158 attack mark, also fourth-best in the conference, while ranking fifth in blocks (2.05) and sixth in digs (15.43).
During the nine-match winning streak, Grand Valley State is hitting .249 while holding opponents to a meager .116 attack clip. The Lakers also own more aces (33-25), digs (441-410), and blocks (63-47) in that timeframe, not to mention nearly 100 more kills (412-315) than their opponents. GVSU has won 15 consecutive sets and has won the first set in eight of the last nine contests.
Half a dozen Lakers rank among the top-10 players in the league in various categories. Sophomore Abby Aiken is putting down 3.38 kills per set, the fourth-highest figure in the GLIAC, while freshman Betsy Ronda is not far behind with 3.19 putaways, which is sixth-best. With a .338 hitting percentage, junior Abby Ebels owns the fourth-highest hitting percentage in the conference.
Senior Eno Umoh is close to Ebels, as well, with a .325 hitting percentage. That figure is sixth-best in the league. Umoh also ranks third with 1.24 blocks per set. She recently moved into fourth place on the GVSU all-time blocking list, as Umoh has 452 career blocks as a Laker. She ranks third in career history with 377 block assists.
A pair of sophomore specialists are also in the GLIAC's top-10. Setter Clair Ruhenkamp is handing out 9.25 assists per set, seventh-most in the league, while libero Christina Canepa's 4.01 digs per set are sixth-highest.
Northern Michigan enters Friday's meeting with a 15-9 overall record and a 7-4 tally in GLIAC play. The Wildcats are tied for fifth in the conference standings. NMU bounced back from an 0-3 mark at the GLVC-GLIAC Crossover to defeat Ohio Dominican and Tiffin last weekend at home. Owning a 4-3 record in road matches, the Wildcats have lost two of their last three road contests, falling at Walsh and Ashland. Both those matches went five sets.
The Huskies of Michigan Tech are 9-15 this season with a 4-7 GLIAC record. MTU is tied for 11th place in the league. As Northern Michigan did, Michigan Tech also defeated Tiffin and Ohio Dominican last weekend in the U.P. The Huskies have struggled on the road lately, having lost their last four road matches. For the season, MTU is just 2-8 in true road contests.
Friday night's match against Northern Michigan is the team's "Spike Out Cancer" match. GVSU will wear its pink jerseys and fans are encouraged to show their support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink. The team's pink jerseys from the past few seasons will be on sale, with all proceeds going to the Kelly Cares Foundation. Pink ribbons will be available for $2 and other donations are also appreciated.
Grand Valley State will be back in action on Tuesday night (Oct. 30) against West Michigan rival Ferris State. The teams will compete at 7:00 p.m. in Big Rapids. Earlier in the season, FSU won a hard-fought 3-2 match over the Lakers in Allendale, which included a 15-13 fifth set victory.