Ronda, Lakers prevail at WSU, SVSU
GVSU outlasts east-side GLIAC rivals 3-0, 3-2
After a mediocre start to the season in Colorado, the No. 18 Grand Valley State University volleyball team got back to its winning ways by taking on two familiar foes in conference play.
GVSU showed an ability to grind out wins in close sets over the weekend, as the Lakers beat Wayne State 3-0 (25-21, 34-32, 25-23) on Friday and Saginaw Valley State 3-2 (21-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-22, 16-14) on Saturday after a career night from junior outside hitter Betsy Ronda.
“We don’t have that solid set lineup yet, we struggled with that a little bit in Colorado,” Ronda said. “This weekend we felt more comfortable with each other on the court and I think that our chemistry started to click."
The sweep at Wayne State didn't come easily for GVSU. In fact, the Lakers needed 34 points to close out the second set, the most GVSU has recorded in a single set since 2007.
“Winning that second set gave us a lot of confidence going forward,” Ronda said. “At that point in the game it gave us a big swing in momentum and we were able to ride that to a win.”
There were 18 lead changes and 36 tied scores throughout the match, and GVSU held a slim advantage in kills (45-40), assists (43-37), digs (53-49) and blocks (8-7).
“It was back and forth the entire night and we just kept battling with them,” said GVSU coach Deanne Scanlon. "Getting that win in set two took the wind out of (Wayne State).
"Throughout the match, and especially in set two, we were forced to go out of our comfort zone to find a way to win. It’s a good sign at this point in time.”
Senior setter Kaitlyn Wolters racked up 34 assists in the victory, while Ronda led the Lakers with a double-double, posting 10 kills and 15 digs.
The Grand Rapids, Mich. native would carry over that momentum into Saturday’s matchup with rival SVSU, where she posted a career high 23 kills to go with 25 digs.
“Going out there for me, I just wanted to pick up the intensity and energy because that’s what we were lacking,” Ronda said. “I was just trying to go out and stay as active as I could, and I ended up being in the right place at the right time for most of the game.”
After falling behind 0-2, Ronda and her teammates rallied and prevailed 16-14 in the fifth set. The come-from-behind win pushes the team's overall record to 4-2, 2-0 in GLIAC play.
“We really responded to adversity, being pushed up that far against the wall,” said senior middle blocker Ally Simmons. “Even being down 2-0, we didn’t lose focus and we really kept up the intensity. Being able to come up with a comeback win over a conference rival in the early going of conference play is huge for us.”
GVSU, which won the conference outright in 2013, hosts a pair of GLIAC opponents this weekend. The Lakers welcome Malone on Friday at 7 p.m. and Walsh on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“Going 2-0 against two of our bigger rivals in the GLIAC will hopefully give us some momentum going into the thick of the GLIAC schedule,” Scanlon said. “We have to get back to work and focus on keeping that mentality that we had this past weekend.”