The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders volleyball team secured the Michigan Community College Athletic Association State Tournament championship on Saturday in Gordon Hunsberger Arena.
GRCC started the day off against the Oakland Community College Raiders in one of the two simultaneous matches being played next to each other, with Mott Community College Bears and Muskegon Community College Jayhawks playing in the other.
The hometown Raiders came flying out of the gates with a quick 25-9 first set victory.
The following set was another story, OCC played the rest of the match with a drive and passion that GRCC has seen all year, as their opponents were attempting to derail their fantastic season for the No. 3 ranked Raiders. This match was no different and OCC won the second set in a nail-biter, 25-23.
OCC continued to play strong and hang tough against GRCC, but the hometown Raiders ran away with the third set and dominated the fourth set in route to a 3-1 semi-final match victory and a berth in the championship match.
On the other side of the floor, the Jayhawks and Bears fought furiously back and forth and saw the match extend into a decisive and exciting fifth set, which saw the Jayhawks come out on top and give them the chance for the State title against the Raiders.
The championship match was the third meeting of the squads this season and it proved to be one of GRCC’s best performances. The Raiders dominated throughout the match and played some of their best volleyball of the season. GRCC took the first and second set each by a score of 25-19.
In the decisive third set, GRCC came out with guns blazing led by Middle Blockers Hannah Stearns and Hailey Peters as they executed kill after kill and seemed to break the spirit of the Jayhawks.
“We knew both matches were gonna be tough,” said Raiders head coach Chip Will. “When you get the two best teams from both sides of the conference you know they’re going to be really, really tough.”
Will shared his excitement about his Raiders’ performance in the MCCAA Tournament and said it highlighted some things his squad does well and things they can improve on.
“It’s nice to get that tournament feel a week earlier before Regionals, so you don’t get to Regionals and say, ‘Oh, no I’ve never felt this before,’” Will said.
Sophomore Libero, Peyton Helsen, expressed her excitement for the day and what she feels like her team can do this postseason.
“We want to keep the energy level up at all times,” Helsen said. “When we’re not focused that’s when we get down.”
The Raiders continue their quest for the National Championship with the Regional Tournament Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at the SC4 Fieldhouse in Port Huron.