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Athletic Ronda does it all for GVSU

volleyball
Photo: GVL Archives / Lanthorn

GVL / Archive Betsy Ronda digs the ball during the game on Friday afternoon.

Betsy Ronda did not start playing volleyball until she was in the seventh grade, but if you saw her play outside hitter for the Grand Valley State University volleyball team, you would never know.

At 5-foot-11, Ronda has a strong vertical — a leaping ability like that of a kangaroo. Her overall athleticism made coaches drool when scouting her out of East Grand Rapids High School, also leaving those on the opposite side of the net fearing her every move.

“We knew we were getting somebody special,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “She is a real competitive kid. To have her come in and contribute the way she has to our program as a freshman, it’s a tough conference and it doesn’t happen very often, but it just shows how special of a kid she is.”

So far this season, Ronda has tallied 16 double-doubles, the most on the team, while averaging 3.70 points, 3.24 kills and 3.11 digs per set. She is first on the team and sixth in the GLIAC with 318 kills. Also, Ronda is first on the team with 26 service aces and is second with 305 digs.

Besides playing on her high school volleyball team, Ronda also was a member of the Dead Frog & FaR Out (DFFO) club volleyball program, one of the elite programs in the state.

While several of her club teammates chose to continue their volleyball careers at Division I institutions, Ronda selected GVSU, even though she was offered scholarships from Oakland University, Valparaiso University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, just to name a few.

Ronda said it wasn’t about the size of the school that influenced her decision. Instead, it bounced off the ideas that she knew someone on the team in sophomore libero Christina Canepa, the university’s proximity to her home, and that she could study exercise science and eventually pursue the strong physical therapy program offered at GVSU.

“In the end, I just knew it was the right place for me,” Ronda said. “It’s not too far away from my home and I knew a girl on the team and our assistant coach (Jason Johnson) coming here. I knew what values they represented and the kind of coaching and I really liked that. I think the opportunity to win and play was also a big part of it.”

While she was immediately inserted into the starting lineup for the Lakers this season, Ronda has learned many techniques and aspects of college volleyball from returning players, especially lone senior leader and team captain, middle blocker Eno Umoh.

“She brings the intensity and sets the standard out on the court,” Ronda said. “She is a great leader and is always helping to encourage me, guide me through and mentor me.”

Umoh came to GVSU from a high school not known for volleyball. Her raw talent meant she had to work on her skill set to get to where she is today. As for Ronda, coming to GVSU from a sound volleyball program made her game a bit more polished and has put her ahead of the game. Continuing to work hard will only make her that much better, Umoh says.

“She is one of those freshmen you don’t see very often,” Umoh said. “She is going to do wonders for this program. Once she starts perfecting her hitting, she is going to be amazing. I know it is good now, but even more when she starts to tweak her skills, she is going to be great.”

To top things off, Ronda was named the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week on Monday. She is the first GVSU rookie to win the award since Oct. 13, 1991.
zsepanik@lanthorn.com



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