No. 22 GVSU falls to No. 4 Ferris State in four sets
Service errors, lack of firepower doom Lakers
Conference supremacy and national vindication was at stake Tuesday night as the No. 22 Grand Valley State volleyball team took to the court in front of a full capacity crowd inside Ewingleben Sports Arena in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Defending its 16-game home winning streak, No. 4 Ferris State (13-1, 5-0 GLIAC) did enough to fend off the upset-minded Lakers (8-5, 4-1 GLIAC) in four sets by scores of 25-16, 26-24, 23-25, 25-20.
“For the most part I thought we competed, except in the tight points,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “We just have to get better in those situations.”
The most notable missed chance came in the second set when GVSU forced set point at 24-22, but committed a number of mistakes to give FSU a commanding 2-0 set lead. Three of the final four points in the set were given to the Bulldogs after offensive errors committed by the Lakers.
A match-high 79 sideout percentage helped GVSU salvage the third set to stay alive. But, three more attacking errors in a 6 to 2 run in the middle of the fourth set helped FSU pull away for good and prevent a remarkable rally – reminiscent of the two-set comeback FSU had against the Lakers back at the 2013 NCAA Division II Midwest Region Final.
Middle blockers Kaleigh Lound (13 kills, .242 hitting percentage) and Staci Brower (12 kills, .207 hitting percentage) bolstered an otherwise lackluster attack. The offense finished with a season-high 29 errors and a collective hitting percentage of .111.
“Sure, it makes me happy that I was able to get that amount of kills,” Lound said. “But, they were shutting down our pin (hitters), so we were trying to utilize our middles more.”
The Lound and Brower tag-team accounted for 53 percent of GVSU’s kills.
For the second time this season, setters Katie Olson and Taylor Stewart both put down kills. Olson racked up more assists, and, for the second straight game, was the only Laker to record a double-double (24 assists and 12 digs).
Senior libero Taylor Shomin (21 digs) and outside hitter Betsy Ronda (17 digs) joined Olson with more than 10 digs in a solid defensive outing that held the Bulldogs to a season-low .142 hitting percentage and forced them into 26 attacking errors.
“We were (playing) pretty scrappy,” Shomin said. “(Defensively) we have been playing well lately, but today I think we really stepped it up.”
Scrappy defense wasn't enough. The Lakers’ own mistakes proved too costly to overcome.
Adding on to the attacking errors, GVSU also had 13 service errors, and FSU dropped in seven service aces. In essence, the Lakers lost 20 points without inducing a rally.
“I was just looking for those moments for people to step up and take a chance,” Scanlon said. “If you got to win big, then you got to go for it big. Unfortunately, there was a lot of uneasiness.”
Scanlon expressed dissatisfaction with the service miscues, as they continually put GVSU's hitters to get off bad swings, or in situations to get blocked.
“That’s just not a Grand Valley team," she said. "I don’t coach that way and that’s a certain style of play I don’t want to see us play. So, it’s disappointing in that sense.”
Conference play continues this weekend as the Lakers return home to face Ohio Dominican (7-7, 2-3 GLIAC) on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and Tiffin (7-4, 4-1 GLIAC) on Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. GVSU is 13-0 all-time against these two GLIAC schools and has yet to drop a single set, 39-0.