Simmons blossoms into key player for GVSU

Unsung senior consistently leads, sets tone inside at MB

By Tate Baker | 9/15/14 8:06am

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Ally Simmons

by GVL/Brianna Olson / The Lanthorn

The athlete who leads the team in various statistical categories, makes the headlines and receives all the recognition is often credited for the team’s success, or lack thereof.

What often times goes unnoticed is the athlete who doesn’t necessarily receive all the attention and accolades, but is always in the right spot at the right time, fulfills their duties on a consistent basis and holds the team together as one cohesive unit.

“Ally is the type of person that just about anyone can connect with," said Deanne Scanlon, coach of the Grand Valley State University women's volleyball team. “Her communication skills and overall knowledge of the game reflect those of a coach. It’s a big advantage to have her on the court.”

On the court, senior middle blocker Ally Simmons embodies consistency, and in her previous three years with the team Simmons has consistently progressed on and off the court.

During her freshman year, she very seldom saw the court, only playing in eight matches and 11 total sets. However, she took advantage of her opportunities. In her first career start, she posted three kills in three attempts for a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage – a sign of good things to come.

“Coming into Grand Valley as a freshman, I knew that I wasn’t going to play that much right away,” Simmons said. "I was okay with that, but it required me to have a lot of patience. I definitely took advantage of every opportunity that was given to me in my first couple of years.”

In her sophomore year, she made three starts while appearing in 24 matches. She posted 30 kills, 19 digs, 10 blocks and five aces on the season. Still progressing, Simmons appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season.

“Ally isn’t your prototypical middle,” said senior Claire Ruhenkamp. “She isn’t the tallest and can’t jump the highest, but she kept working and took advantage of every opportunity that she got."

Then, as a junior, Simmons became a focal part of the Lakers team.

She started in 34 of 35 matches, ranked second on the team in blocks (80) and quietly took care of business inside for a 31-4 GVSU team that won the outright conference title.

“I knew that I was going to get more playing time in my junior season, and I felt like I was finally able to come into my own,” she said. “I knew that I could fill an empty void on the team, and I knew that I had to step up and prove myself.”

Simmons also shines academically.

She earned GLIAC All-Academic team (3.0-3.49 GPA) honors in her sophomore season. She then followed that up her junior year by being named to the GLIAC All-Academic Excellence team (3.5+).

“She puts in just as much work into classes as she does on the court,” Ruhenkamp said. “She shows maturity in knowing that she has a future beyond volleyball and really dedicates herself to academics.”

Despite her accomplishments, Simmons said she still has a lot to prove.

“I have to prove myself as an individual on the team,” Simmons said. “I feel somewhat overlooked and I want to prove to the rest of the GLIAC how big of a difference I can make on this team.”

With one season left in her GVSU career, Simmons is eager to make a name for herself – and with another GLIAC championship and a run in the national tournament, she could do just that.

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