GVSU ends regular season on winning note
After a loss to Northwood University on Friday, senior day and a match with Hillsdale University on Saturday seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for the Grand Valley State University volleyball team to get back on track in its regular season finale.
GVSU (23-6, 13-5 GLIAC) took the first set from Northwood, 25-19, but the Timberwolves then won three straight, 25-18, 25-20 and 25-7.
Saturday, though, the Lakers fed off the excitement of senior day against Hillsdale, celebrating the accomplishments of its lone senior, middle blocker Eno Umoh.
“Oh my gosh, very exciting and surreal at the same time, it was bittersweet. I couldn’t believe it’s my senior year, my last regular season home game,” said Umoh, who totaled a match-high and career-high 18 kills in the win, hitting at a .500 mark in the process. “It was probably the best thing ever since we haven’t beaten Hillsdale since my freshman year.”
Losing four-straight matches to the Chargers dating back to 2009, GVSU looked to stop the bleeding. The script was completely opposite, from both Friday’s match and the history books, as the Chargers won the first set, 25-22, and the Lakers dominated the rest of the way, 25-14, 25-12 and 25-15.
“On Friday, we didn’t play up to our potential and let the game control us, rather than us controlling the game,” said sophomore setter Clair Ruhenkamp, who dished out 57 assists, her second-highest total of the season, against Hillsdale. “We came back Saturday ready to prove that we were better than that. I was so proud of Eno — she played amazing and really showed senior leadership in a big game like that.”
After their weekend performance, GVSU, winners of 14 of their last 16 matches, now turns its attention to the GLIAC conference tournament. As the No. 3 seed, the Lakers will host one game, a quarterfinal matchup against Hillsdale on Wednesday.
However, all roads go through Northwood. With a 17-1 record in the conference the Timberwolves head into the tournament as the No. 1 seed. Ferris State University sits at No. 2.
In order to make a deep postseason run, the Lakers realize it will first take getting past the top tier in the GLIAC and an effort like Friday will not get the job done.
“Against teams like Northwood, we have to bring our all, otherwise that stuff will happen,” Umoh said. “We kind of sat back and waited for them to make mistakes, but they don’t. When we lose, it is a chance to take a step back and look at what needs to be done.”
For the Lakers, they believe that losing a couple games down the stretch has brought them back to reality and allowed them to notice the flaws in their game that they need to improve on.
“Each of our losses, and even our wins, has shown us what we need to do to get better,” said freshman outside hitter Betsy Ronda, who chipped in with 29 digs over the weekend, including a match-high 17 on Saturday. “They have also shown us that we always have to come ready to play no matter who it is.”
Following Wednesday’s action, the semifinals take place on Nov. 17, while the GLIAC champion will be crowned on Nov. 18.