No. 21 GVSU splits GLIAC series
Scanlon issued red card as Ashland upsets GVSU
GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Shannon Winicki (18) celebrates with her team after a point scored. Grand Valley sweeps Tiffin Oct. 3 after three sets inside the Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale.
From tweeting about the bus breaking down to head coach Deanne Scanlon getting a red card, it was a bizarre weekend for the No. 21 Grand Valley State volleyball team.
Transportation problems delayed the start of the Friday’s match against Lake Erie (5-10, 1-8 GLIAC) by 30 minutes, but GVSU (11-6, 7-2 GLIAC) couldn’t be stopped once the match got going, defeating the Storm convincingly in straight sets (25-18, 25-10, 25-16).
A battle-tested Ashland (12-5, 7-2 GLIAC) squad proved to be more difficult, and upset the Lakers on Saturday afternoon in four sets by scores of 25-23, 14-25, 25-20, 25-14.
Halfway through the fourth set, GVSU down 5-14, Scanlon was issued a red card, and Ashland was awarded a point.
“It was a disagreement between me and the official," she said. "I don't think it has ever happened before. I can't remember, so let's just put it that way."
The red card made for a frustrating and rather unfamiliar end to the road trip.
Not playing up to GVSU standards, lack of senior leadership and not making the proper adjustments were addressed as causes for concern following the loss.
Using the 6-2 formation to rotate setters for a majority of the season, Scanlon needed to adapt her rotation accordingly over the two matches with sophomore setter Katie Olson sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
Freshman Taylor Stewart filled in as the lone setter for the weekend, tossing up 67 assists, assisting on four blocks and dropping in three kills.
“I had to play front row which adds another element,” Stewart said. “I had to focus on blocking as well as setting, and trying not to let my team down. I had to run the court in a different way.”
Connecting most frequently on Stewart’s assists was freshman Staci Brower. She picked up two more double-digit kill games including a season-best .611 hitting percentage (11 kills, no errors on 18 attack attempts) against Lake Erie.
GVSU didn’t hesitate to spread the ball or playing time around on Friday, as 11 different players recorded a kill. 15 of 19 Lakers saw action in the contest.
The defense, however, was the key to GVSU's win, holding Lake Erie to a -.026 hitting percentage and 26 attacking errors. GVSU finished with a season-high seven solo blocks.
Meanwhile, Ashland challenged and lost to conference rival No. 4 Ferris State on Friday night in three closely played sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-22). The Eagles brought that same intensity to its home court the following day against GVSU – this time knocking off a nationally ranked GLIAC opponent.
Junior Alli Cudworth, conference leader in kills (270) and kills per set (4.22), put down nine kills in the first set to give Ashland the opening frame, 25-23.
“(Ashland) had really good outside (hitters) that we weren’t able to stop,” said senior Kourtney Wolters. “But I don’t think they were any better than us. I just think they came to play a lot harder than we did, apparently.”
GVSU jumped out to an early 8-1 lead in the second set and didn’t look back. The Lakers forced Ashland into 13 attacking errors and a season-low -.071 hitting percentage to even the match at one set apiece.
In the pivotal third set, three costly GVSU serving errors and four Ashland aces made the difference. Lack of upperclassman leadership was alarming to Scanlon.
“At one point in the match we had four straight errors made in a row by our seniors. They need to step up in those situations and be the ones we can count on,” she said.
Ashland pulled away early in the fourth set, going up 9-2, and the Lakers couldn’t mount a comeback.
Conference play is put on hold as all teams travel to Aurora, Illinois for the Midwest Region Crossover Tournament next weekend.
Matched up based on similar conference records, GVSU draws one of the premier matches of the tournament against No. 21 Lewis (18-1, 9-0 GLVC) on Oct. 16 at 11:30 a.m.
GVSU will also play Indianapolis (8-11, 5-4 GLVC) at 5:30 p.m. and will meet Missouri S&T (14-6, 6-3 GLVC) once again on Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. for an anticipated rematch after the Lakers swept the Miners in the first round of the Midwest Regional in 2014.
Editor's note: We originally printed that GVSU volleyball coach Deanne Scanlon received a red card against and was ejected. Coach Scanlon was not ejected, however, and Ashland received a free point due to the red card. The Lanthorn regrets the error.