GVSU volleyball splits weekend series to end regular-season competition
The Grand Valley State women’s volleyball team went into its final regular-season weekend with big matchups against GLIAC opponents Purdue University Northwest on Friday, Nov. 10, and Davenport University on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the GVSU Fieldhouse.
In the weekend opener against Purdue, the Lakers swept three sets to zero.
GVSU started off the opening set strong. The most efficient aspect of the team’s performance was the early play on offense. In the first set, GVSU managed to gather a .593 hitting performance, which was far better than the hitting percentage of Purdue (-.071). The Lakers went on to dominate the first set 25-8. Stacy Brower led GVSU in set kills with four.
The second set was tightly contested, but the Lakers’ ability to get offense from all players on the court wore down the defense of the opposition. GVSU took this set 25-16. The offense outhit Purdue again with a hitting percentage of .282, while PNW only managed a .000. GVSU junior Hannah Murdock had four kills in the set to lead the Lakers.
The theme of tightly contested sets continued into the third as both teams traded points and remained within 2 points of each other for most of the set. Luckily, the Lakers went on a run toward the end of the set and scored 7 of the last 9 points to win the set 25-17. The GVSU attack was not as efficient as it had been in earlier sets, but the Lakers still managed a .229 hitting percentage while holding their opponents to .038. Shannon Winicki led the Lakers in kills that set with five.
For the entire match, the Lakers managed to end with their best hitting percentage all year, finishing with a .347. The offense was not the only impressive unit for the Lakers, as the defense finished with eight blocks and held Purdue to a -.011 percentage. Sydney Doby was the standout player for the Lakers, leading the team with 10 kills and four blocks.
After a big win like that, Doby was happy with her team's performance but understood that there was more volleyball to be improved on moving forward.
“I think that we can always improve on our communication," Doby said. "Whether it's communicating about what they are doing on their side of the net or a ball that’s about to drop on our side of the net, you can always improve on communication, and it's always going to make your team better."
In the Saturday game, the Lakers took on Davenport at home in the regular-season finale. This game also served as Senior Night for the players on the team who were playing their final game at home. GVSU played a match that was tightly contested throughout, but eventually dropped the match three sets to two.
The Lakers and Panthers traded points back and forth in the first set. The teams were tied at 22 apiece before Davenport scored 3 unanswered points to win the first set 25-22. GVSU had the advantage in hitting percentage with a .125, while Davenport finished with a .049.
The Lakers would battle back and tie up the match in the second set this time, coming out on top 26-24 to make it 1-1. Both teams were efficient on offense during this set: GVSU posted a .350 hitting percentage, while Davenport had a .293.
The third set would play out more easily for GVSU as they took the lead early. Davenport started to battle back, but the Lakers managed to pull away at the end and win the set 25-17. The Lakers hit .256 this set, and Davenport hit .083.
GVSU went into the fourth set needing only one more to seal the victory. The Panthers came out of the gate strong and took a big lead. GVSU tried to come back and made it closer by the end, but the Lakers ultimately dropped the set 25-20. The Laker offense struggled, putting up a .087 hitting percentage, while Davenport put up a .208.
The decisive fifth set did not go well for the Lakers. They fell behind early, trailing 6-1 at one point, and they didn’t have enough time to make it up. The Lakers dropped the last set 15-9. Davenport’s offense was the highlight of the last set, posting a hitting percentage of .438, while the Lakers only mustered a .118.
Coach Deane Scanlon talked about what her team needs to improve after this weekend.
“I think our defense always needs to get better all the way around," she said. "I’m always a defense-minded coach, and I never like the ball hitting the floor.”
GVSU secured a No. 4 seed in the upcoming GLIAC tournament. The Lakers will take on Wayne State on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at home. The official start time is TBA.