License to kill: GVSU volleyball has solid week, improves to 7-3 on the year

By Payton Miloser | 9/10/18 10:11am

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Grand Valley Volleyball on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017.

While everyone in Allendale and Grand Rapids was spending the long weekend relaxing and winding down after a long first week of classes, the Grand Valley State women’s volleyball team was killing it at the Cavalier Classic. 

Off to a strong start, the Grand Valley State women’s volleyball team traveled to North Canton, Ohio to play four games in the Cavalier Classic tournament on Friday, Aug. 31 and Saturday, Sept. 1. 

The team won all four games at the tournament, giving them an overall record of 7-1 and a four game winning streak. 

Starting that Friday, the Lakers took down the Bloomsburg Huskies 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 26-24) forcing 14 errors on the Huskies while the Lakers completed 42 kills. Freshmen Alexandra Thompson and Abby Graham led the team each with 9 kills on the offense, while defensively sophomore Ashlyn Kartes led the team with 15 digs. 

“Our team has been playing well for the beginning of the season and we are starting a new setter and two freshmen,” said Associate Head Coach, Jason Johnson. “I’m really pleased with their development both on and off the court and the perseverance they have shown early on.”

Later that night, the Lakers defeated host school Walsh 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 26-28, and 25-21). GVSU led with a hitting percentage of .257 while holding Walsh at .167 and getting a season high 11 aces off of serves. 

After ending the first day strong, the Lakers started the second day of the tournament just as well, defeating the third team Pitt-Johnstown 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-19). This game, the Lakers had a hitting percentage of .309 while keeping the Mountain Cats at .084. Senior Staci Brower led the team in kills and blocks with 11 and 5. 

Finishing out the tournament, the Lakers defeated Virginia Union 3-1 (25-23, 25-13, 21-25, 25-11) with an overall total of 58 kills against Virginia's 28 kills. Senior Hannah Murdock led the last set with 18 kills and her own hitting percentage of .500. Winning the last set by 14 points, the Lakers held strong through the entire tournament and are bringing home four new wins for their record.

Unfortunately, the Lakers hit a rough patch against Wayne State and Ashland the next weekend. The Lakers lost 3-1 (10-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-23) against the Warriors and went 0-3 (24-26, 24-26, 17-25) against the Eagles.

The Lakers played hard against Wayne State, however the Warriors held the advantage in kills with 48 kills to the Lakers’ 38. Collectively both teams had 10 blocks a piece for a total of 20 blocks overall during the four sets.

Graham led the Lakers with 12 kills while hitting a team-best .286 hitting percentage to go along with 13 digs and two aces. Murdock was second on the team with seven kills on the night, while freshman Ali Thompson and senior Jillian Butsavich hit six and Brower picked up four more. Butsavich led the team with six assisted blocks while Brower tallied a team-high three solo blocks of her own.

Once again, Brower led the Lakers in kills with 12 kills and two blocks against Ashland with Thompson not far behind with nine kills. Junior Kendall Yerkes picked up a match-high 20 digs with Thompson not too far behind with 17.

With the first handful of games under their belt, the Lakers have a whole season ahead of them and many more teams to play, including many key GLIAC match-ups that are sure to have postseason implications.

The Lakers are headed home and will be playing Davenport in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. before their home opener against Purdue Northwest Friday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. in the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena. 

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