On fire

By Jay Bushen | 11/3/13 1:46am

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GVL / Hannah Mico. Sophomore Kaleigh Lound (15) and junior Abby Aiken (12) block a spike from Findlay.


The Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team had every reason to enjoy its celebratory ice cream after a successful road trip to the Upper Peninsula.

GVSU pushed its winning streak to 11 games over the weekend by sweeping both Northern Michigan University and Michigan Technological University on the road to take sole possession of first place in the GLIAC.

“These kids just play with confidence,” GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon said. “They have that intangible quality that all good teams have. They have the talent, but they also play together, laugh together and support each other on and off the court.”

GVSU (21-3, 12-1 GLIAC) crossed the Mackinac Bridge on Friday in a three-way tie for first place atop the conference standings along with Northern Michigan and Ferris State University.

It didn’t take long to make that a two-way tie.

GVSU came off the bus ready to play against against Northern Michigan on Friday night, as the Lakers found a way to bounce the Wildcats out of first place by closing out a trio of close sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-22).

Sophomore outside hitter Betsy Ronda led the way with the only double-double in the match, posting 13 kills to go with 10 digs, while junior outside hitter Abby Aiken added 11 kills, five digs and three blocks.

Junior setter Kaitlyn Wolters guided the offense to the tune of 35 assists.

“We’re both really physical teams,” Ronda said. “We just had the confidence and the poise to finish. They kept pushing, but we had that mentality of making the next play and getting through each set.”

GVSU did not lose focus after the 99-mile trip to Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich.

The sweep came much easier this time, as the Lakers never trailed in the straight-set victory (25-14, 25-18, 25-13). The team was powered by nine service aces.

Ronda served up three of those aces to go with a match-high 10 kills and seven digs, while Wolters posted a match-high 24 assists.

“Certain teams just take ownership,” Scanlon said. “These kids have taken ownership of the team, and they come to play every night. They execute the game plan, and that allows me to really enjoy the ride.”

GVSU has swept 10 different GLIAC squads this season.

Junior libero Christina Canepa reached a milestone in the victory when she notched her 1,000th career dig. She finished with a team-high 11 in the victory.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Canepa said. “It’s not just about me, though. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

The 2-0 weekend got even sweeter after the Lakers checked the GLIAC scoreboard on Saturday night. While GVSU was sweeping Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan was sweeping Ferris State.

The red-hot Lakers celebrated the good news by cooling off with some ice cream on the way home. The team has lost just one of its last 19 matches—an Oct. 1 loss to FSU.

GVSU will have an opportunity to avenge that loss at home on Tuesday.

“We’ve been looking forward to this since the bus pulled out of Big Rapids in October,” Scanlon said. “It’s always a big rivalry match whenever we play Ferris, and this one really has the conference championship riding on it.”

The rematch with the Bulldogs is set to take place at Fieldhouse Arena at 7 p.m.

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