Errors doom Lakers versus rival Bulldogs
Heading into Tuesday night’s contest against No. 22 Ferris State University, the Grand Valley State University volleyball team was riding an eight-match home win streak dating back to last season. Five sets later, that streak was snapped to the same team that last defeated the Lakers in Fieldhouse Arena.
“Coming into games like this we have to come out swinging,” said junior middle blocker Abby Ebels, who contributed 13 kills and four blocks in the match. “It’s Ferris. They are aggressive when they play and we had to be just as aggressive.”
It was an energetic, high intensity match between the two rivals with the Bulldogs coming out on top 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, and 15-13. A couple banged up Lakers, sophomore libero Christina Canepa and senior middle blocker Eno Umoh, returned from short absences to give GVSU a spark.
On the stat sheet, GVSU (9-4 overall, 2-3 GLIAC) outperformed FSU across the board. They tallied 69 kills compared to 57, 62 assists against 55 and 87 digs versus 84. What the match really came down to was errors and the Lakers led in that category as well, 33-16.
“I felt like we could play with them but what we did that they didn’t do was make errors, we had way too many,” said head coach Deanne Scanlon. “We basically gave them 33 points and they didn’t have to do anything. Hopefully this is something we can grow on. The next step that they have to take for us to be a really good team is they have to become consistent.”
Tied at 12 in the opening set, GVSU put together a 7-4 run capped off by consecutive combined blocks from Ebels and sophomore setter Clair Ruhenkamp. The team’s .333 hitting percentage was their best of the match and helped them to an early advantage.
In the second set, the Bulldogs jumped out to a big lead. The Lakers used a strong defensive effort to climb back and tie it at 11. However, five consecutive points from FSU put it out of reach.
FSU continued their strong play in the third set with a 14-8 run after the score was tied at five. Despite getting it back to 24-20, the Laker’s hopes were dashed by a kill from senior middle hitter Anne Sutton to end the set.
“It was important to stay positive and make sure that we were keeping our errors to minimum,” Canepa said, who had a match-high and career-high 28 digs. “We were all sick of losing, so we all came together.”
After two strong sets, FSU looked to put the match away in the fourth, but GVSU would have no part of it. The Bulldogs held 22-20 before a kill from Umoh and back-to-back putaways from freshman outside hitter Betsy Ronda shifted the lead back to the Lakers. FSU tied it again at 23 but consecutive kills from Umoh and sophomore outside hitter Abby Aiken forced a deciding fifth set.
The Lakers were down to match point at 14-10 in the finale, but consecutive kills from Ronda, followed by an FSU service error made it a one-point game. The last exchange saw Ronda’s shot blocked by a pair of Bulldogs and with the ball falling right back to her, Ronda went for the kill but sent it a bit long, ending the comeback.
“They never quit,” Scanlon said. “I think they feel like they can always win. They are always going hard, and it is much easier to pull them back and reel them in versus always trying to light a fire under them.”
For Umoh, her two blocks in the match moved her within one of eighth place on the GVSU all-time total blocks list. Meanwhile, Ruhenkamp added 55 assists and Ronda chipped in another double-double with 20 digs and a team-high 18 kills.
The Lakers will face their next two opponents in Ohio when they take on Ohio Dominican University tomorrow and Tiffin University on Saturday.
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