Ferris State stuns GVSU in regional title match

Volleyball team’s 21-game win streak snapped by rival in five-set thriller

By Jay Bushen | 12/8/13 7:24pm

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12 Abby Aiken

by GVL/Archive / The Lanthorn

The Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team concluded a special 2013 campaign with a heartbreaking loss to its nemesis.

Ferris State University rallied to beat GVSU by taking the final three sets of a highly-contested title match (13-25, 22-25, 25-15, 28-26, 15-13) in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Tournament on Saturday night at the Fieldhouse Arena to advance to the Elite 8 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

GVL/Archive

GVSU's Betsy Ronda (#6), Kaleigh Lound (#15) and Abby Aiken (#12) compete during a 2013 match.

GVSU (31-4, 17-1 GLIAC) was one victory away from tying the longest winning streak in team history.

“I’m in disbelief honestly,” junior libero Christina Canepa said. “We all fought so hard.”

The No. 13 Lakers raced out to a two-set advantage early and were one point away from a sweep with a 25-24 lead in the third stanza, but No. 23 FSU simply refused to lose.

The Bulldogs started to win the battle at the net and limited the 2013 Daktronics Inc. Midwest Region Player of the Year, junior outside hitter Abby Aiken, to a hitting-percentage clip of .035.

Aiken finished with 11 kills and 18 digs.

“I’m just sad that the season is over,” head coach Deanne Scanlon said. “It was just a special year. They were a special group.”

The team certainly had a run to remember.

It began the season with a 2-2 start in the Riverfront Hotel Grand Rapids Classic, but quickly transformed into a powerhouse by winning 29 of its next 31 matches.

Both losses were against FSU.

The Lakers didn’t come away empty-handed, though, as they won both GLIAC championships for the first time since 2008.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” senior right-side hitter Megan Schroeder said.

Schroeder, the team’s only active senior, played valiantly throughout the entire tournament and posted a team-high 39 kills overall.

She and sophomore middle blocker Kaleigh Lound led the way offensively with 77 combined kills in the trio of matches, while junior setter Kaitlyn Wolters powered the offense with 143 assists and 47 digs overall for back-to-back-to-back double-doubles.

Each of the three earned a spot on the Midwest Region All-Tournament team.

“She had her best three performances of the year by far on all three nights,” Scanlon said of Schroeder. “She was taking good swings, and that’s what you want from your senior. She’s got to feel great about the way she finished out her career and what she was able to help us do.”

GVSU had advanced to the field of 16 teams by recording four-set victories over No. 24 Truman State University (19-25, 25-17, 27-25, 26-24) on Thursday night and Ashland University (20-25, 33-31, 25-14, 26-24) on Friday night.

Canepa was a human highlight reel in the tournament and was all over the court with a number of athletic diving plays. She amassed 80 digs overall, including a career-high 39-dig performance in the championship match.

She moved up two spots in the GVSU record book for career digs during the team’s final game and will enter her senior season with the sixth most in team history with 1,198.

“It was a very fun year,” Canepa said. “It’s sad to see that it’s over, but I’m really proud of the strides we made. I wasn’t expecting that from the beginning of the season with how young we were.”

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