Aiken and Ronda lead GV volleyball to a 3-0 weekend
Sophomore captain Betsy Ronda refused to let a pair of injuries keep her out of a match against the No. 15 team in the country.
Ronda played through the pain against Truman State University on Friday night, leading the No. 17 Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team to a crucial victory that highlighted a 3-0 weekend at the 2013 GLIAC/GLVC Crossover Tournament at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora, Ill.
“The adrenaline and ibuprofen tend to kick in,” she said. “I was in a lot more pain toward the end of the match. I’m sore now, but I would much rather play through it and be out on the court.”
The 2012 GLIAC Freshman of the Year seemed to swing the momentum in the first set against the Bulldogs by tallying three straight kills to give the Lakers a 24-22 lead before junior captain Abby Aiken ended it with a service ace.
Ronda led the way with a match-high 16 kills to go with 20 digs and an ace. The outside hitter was playing at “70-80 percent” while dealing with an abdominal strain and a wrist injury, which have sidelined her for a number of games this season.
“I was going up with the mentality that we have nothing to lose,” she said. “I tried to turn that game around and bring some energy.”
Aiken added 14 kills and 20 digs to go with a pair of service aces, while junior setter Kaitlyn Wolters racked up 51 assists to go with 14 digs and five kills in the four-set victory.
The offensive-minded trio has been an asset for the team this season and seemed to take its play to the next level in the event.
“We deserve to be in the top 10,” Wolters said. “Winning this game proves to us that we deserve to be higher (in the AVCA poll). It will push us forward.”
It was Aiken’s turn to push the team forward on Saturday, as the Onsted, Mich., native stole the show with a career performance.
The outside hitter had an explosive match against the University of Missouri-St. Louis by posting a career-high 27 kills to go with 22 digs to lead GVSU to another four-set victory. She had more than twice as many kills as any other player in the match.
The stat line showed that Wolters was at top form, dishing out 48 helpers to go with 17 digs and five kills. Ronda chipped in with eight kills.
A few hours later, the team capped off the 3-0 weekend with a sweep over the University of Southern Indiana. Aiken led the way with 10 kills while Wolters posted 37 assists.
Aiken and Wolters were named to the 12-player All-Tournament Team.
Head coach Deanne Scanlon said she was so impressed by her team’s performance in the event that she was willing to make comparisons to her 2005 group that won a national championship.
“This team has a lot of similar qualities with the 2005 team,” Scanlon said. “They play with an ease about them. They’re confident and they are not shaken up by a lot of lineup changes or adversity. The 2005 team had a lot of different lineups and people who contributed, and we have the same thing now.”
GVSU pushed its winning streak to nine games after the trio of wins and has now won 17 of its last 18 matches.
The team will head to the Upper Peninsula this weekend for a pair of GLIAC matches against Northern Michigan University on Friday at 7 p.m. and Michigan Technological University on Saturday at 4 p.m.