Volleyball team takes 3 straight at GLVC-GLIAC Crossover tourney
Two years after rattling off three straight wins at one of the biggest collegiate volleyball tournaments in the nation and one year after posting one win against two losses at the same tournament, the No. 25 Grand Valley State University Lakers returned to dominance in dramatic fashion at the GLVC-GLIAC Crossover Tournament in Aurora, Ill.
After busting out the brooms yet again for their sixth and seventh consecutive sweeps – 25-22, 25-20, 25-13 over Missouri University of Science and Technology and 25-21, 25-13, 25-20 over Northern Kentucky University – on the tournament’s opening day Friday, the Lakers found themselves in a familiar situation Saturday as they lined up against No. 11 Lewis University, a team that sent them packing with a five-set loss in 2009.
This time, however, the Lakers prevailed over their opposition as they capped their tournament success with a 3-2 victory over Lewis led by the inspired play of senior Rebeccah Rapin, who tallied career-highs of 25 kills and 11 digs in the match.
“I don’t think there was a better player in the gym the whole weekend,” said head coach Deanne Scanlon. “That’s what you want out of your seniors. In a tight match like that, you want to look to somebody who wants the ball and in those pressure situations wants to be the one who takes the swings.”
The Lakers (14-5. 10-2 GLIAC) captured their eighth straight win only after outgunning Lewis 20-25, 30-28, 25-17, 20-25, 15-13 in what became a two-hour and 14-minute affair that saw 38 ties and 18 lead changes. After battling through four sets, the Lakers found themselves in a grim position when they fell behind Lewis 13-11 in the fifth set.
Then Rapin stunned Lewis with three straight kills – assisted by Meghan Scanlon – before Lewis made an attack error to seal the Laker victory.
Recording a .339 hitting percentage on the offensive side and six block assists defensively in the final game, Rapin credited the team’s unity in its success at the tournament.
“Everybody was just on the same page,” Rapin said. “Everybody just wanted it, and we just started playing for each other instead of worrying about our individual games. Not everyone had their best game every game, but other people stepped up and got the job done for everybody else.”
Senior Leslie Curtis said the weekend wins would provide the team with the momentum critical to playing well in future matches.
“As a team, I think we’re getting better every day and every game,” said Curtis, who contributed eight kills, 18 digs and a service ace in the victory over Lewis. “I think that it really showed us the potential we have and that we’re really going to be able to accomplish big things this year.”
The wins in Aurora have the added effect of shaping GVSU’s regional ranking. Scanlon said the victory over Lewis – the best team in the GVLC – not only bolsters that ranking but also provides the Lakers with positive morale for the rest of the season.
“Whether you win or you lose, you want them to have a certain kind of mentality,” she said. “Sometimes a hard five-game match can be kind of a turning point in a season because you’re just competing for every point.”
Curtis said that competitive mentality factored into the team’s performance at the tournament.
“I think that’s why we played so well, because we weren’t thinking about losing as an option,” she added.
Scanlon praised all of her players for their team-first effort but said they cannot get complacent after recent successes, especially with an upcoming road trip to the UP to take on Michigan Technological University and No. 13 Northern Michigan University.
“We lost a tough five-game set to Northern Michigan earlier in the year, so I know we’re really looking forward to that,” Scanlon said.
The Lakers will play Michigan Tech in Houghton on Saturday and at Northern Michigan in Marquette on Sunday.