GVSU volleyball closes regular season with two-game split

The Lakers will face Ferris State in the first round of the GLIAC tournament Nov. 16

By Brady McAtamney | 11/13/16 10:59pm

For the fourth straight week, the Grand Valley State volleyball team split a weekend series against conference opponents.

The Lakers took three sets over the Northwood Timberwolves by scores of 25-17, 25-21 and 25-19 in a 3-0 sweep Friday, Nov. 11. The Lakers closed the regular season out with a loss on senior day Saturday, Nov. 12 to the Hillsdale Chargers 3-1 in four airtight sets (25-23, 25-23, 23-25 and 27-25).

With the victory and Tiffin’s loss to Ashland Friday, the Lakers clinched a spot in the GLIAC postseason tournament. The Lakers are the lowest seeded team at No. 8, and will head to Big Rapids, Michigan to face No. 1 seeded Ferris State in the first round Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.

The Lakers did nothing but dominate against the Timberwolves at Fieldhouse Arena, winning the battle in kills 41 to 29, blocks 10 to one, assists 39 to 28, and digs 66 to 63.

Freshman Jayci Suseland stole the show offensively for GVSU, putting down 15 kills and tallying 2.5 blocks. Sophomore Staci Brower added nine kills and two blocks to pair with junior Sydney Doby’s seven kills and three blocks. Junior Katie Olson handed out 33 assists and notched 17 digs while freshman Sydney Benchley, sophomore Taylor Stewart and senior Amanda Glaza all tallied double-digit digs as well.

“I think we realized how important this (match) was and we didn’t really allow ourselves to get in our heads or let our mistakes bother us,” Suseland said. “We knew this weekend is very important for us to win, and I just felt like (we) played really well as a team. It feels good when it all comes together like that, when everyone plays well and everyone’s excited the whole time.”

Along with the importance of the match, another factor that led to the GVSU victory was their mentality.

“I think we had a good week of practice,” GVSU coach Deanne Scanlon said. “We talked about a couple of things that we wanted to focus on the rest of the way and no matter how we played, no matter if we won or lost, we know we’re a better team when we’re positive and we just have fun, so we’ve focused on that in practice all week and just tried to keep that attitude on the court.”

Unfortunately for GVSU, the positivity did not trickle over to Saturday, at least not immediately.

After a senior day ceremony for Glaza and fellow senior Carly Serowoky, Hillsdale killed the mood by taking two critical sets early on in a match that saw 30 ties and 16 lead changes.

Brower erupted for 18 kills and 4.5 blocks, and was supported by Suseland (18 kills and two blocks) and sophomore Shannon Winicki (seven kills and one block). Olson assisted on 42 kills and managed 11 digs while Glaza compiled 20 digs, freshman Kendall Yerkes and Benchley had 17 digs each and Stewart added 14.

Errors and lack of playmaking at crucial moments were the downfall of the Lakers in their last regular season match.

“We had leads and just didn’t have anybody step up and make a play when we needed one,” Scanlon said.

A win against Hillsdale could have moved them as high as sixth, but with the loss GVSU finishes the regular season in eighth place in the conference at 15-13 (9-7 GLIAC).

For some players, there will be other opportunities to make a deep postseason run, but for the seniors, this is their time to shine.

“We’re going to have to come in and really focus,” Glaza said. “(We need) a lot of hard work and energy and really focus in on things we need to do going forward. We need to limit our errors. We were high error in really every aspect of the game, so definitely focus on that going forward.”

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