-By Matthew Scheidel
The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders volleyball team rebounded from last week’s loss with a 3-1 victory over the Glen Oaks Community College Vikings on Thursday night at Northview High School.
The match was back and forth early, as the score was knotted at five early in the first set. It was tied at six when the Raiders seemed to find their groove and went on a 5-1 run. However, the Vikings began to mount a comeback with a 4-1 run of their own. Then, the Raiders regained momentum with three straight points to force a Vikings timeout. They weren’t able to keep that momentum as the Vikings were able to trim the lead to two at 19-17, forcing a Raiders’ timeout.
The back and forth nature of the set continued after the timeout with the score at 22-19 Raiders late in the set. After a Raiders’ point, the Vikings rallied off two of their own to force a Raiders’ timeout. The timeout seemed to work as the Raiders were able to net themselves two straight points to take the first set, 25-21.
The Raiders were off to a hot start in the second set, taking an early 5-1 lead. They forced a Vikings’ timeout with the score at 7-3. The Vikings cut the lead to one with a 5-2 run. The Vikings tied things up at 18 late in the set to force a Raiders’ timeout. After the timeout, the Vikings went on a 4-1 run to force another Raiders’ timeout. After the Raiders rallied off two quick points, the Vikings burned a timeout of their own. The Raiders came up short in their rally as the Vikings took the second set, 25-23.
Following the conclusion of the second set, Coach Chip Will was upset with a couple of non-calls the officials failed to make. Will was arguing that members of the Vikings were double-hitting the ball and the Raiders should have been awarded the point. He could be heard from the bench saying, “We’ve been working too hard in practice all week for crap like that.”
He received a yellow card for his actions. Will addressed his frustrations with the officials during his post-game comments.
“There’s some things that are always going to be judgement calls,” Will said. “And then there are certain things that got to be called. I lost my cool, but at the end of the day, we work our tails off all week in practice to try to get better. We just have a set of standards that we hope certain things get called. They didn’t, but you know, I’ve got to learn and get better to make sure we refocus as a group. I hold myself accountable to that, getting through that frustration, but then move on to the next play just like I ask our kids to do.”
Freshman middle blocker Lauren Jonker said that Will’s message during the huddle before the third set was to keep playing through the bad calls.
“He said that even if the call does affect us, just play the point out and try to win the rally,” Jonker said.
The Raiders got off to a sluggish start in the third set, falling behind 5-1 early. They were able to bounce back with a 7-1 run to take an 8-6 lead. The run extended to 11-2 to force a Vikings’ timeout. The Vikings stormed back to trim the lead to 16-14. After the Vikings tied it at 17, the Raiders went on a 5-2 run to force another Vikings’ timeout. Following the timeout, the Raiders racked up three quick points to take the third set, 25-19.
The Raiders got off to a fast start in the fourth set, taking an 8-3 lead early on. Will said they came into the fourth set with a really good focus.
“We really handed it to them,” Will said. “We learned from last week that you can’t let your guard (down). It was really fun to see that the kids learned from the loss last week and got better because of it.”
Kelsie Schultz had a huge save as the Vikings were crawling back in the set to make it 11-8.
Jonker said that the save was very crucial in swinging the momentum.
“It brought all our energy up,” Jonker said. “It made us all want to play so much harder and it brought our whole team together.”
That momentum continued throughout the rest of the set as the Raiders cruised to a 25-15 fourth set victory to take the match 3-1.
Freshman middle blocker Breanna Wickerink said that it “felt really good” to put last week’s loss behind them.
Will said he still believes last week’s loss was good for the team.
“It made us refocus,” Will said. “It made us get better as coaches. It made our kids get better, and the last thing I wanted them to do was to think that they could just kind of slack and still win. That game showed that there are teams that are going to play their best against us. Last week, Lansing’s players were crying after they beat us because they were so happy. We never want to give a team that feeling again.”
The Raiders will host a weekend tournament as part of the Raider Challenge. They will take on Lakeland (OH) Community College at 2 p.m. and Sinclair Community College at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. Then on Sunday, Sept. 30, they’ll play Oakland Community College at 11 a.m. followed by a game against Schoolcraft College at 1 p.m. at Northview High School, located at 4451 Hunsberger Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. All the Raiders’ home games are being played at Northview High School this year due to GRCC’s ongoing fieldhouse construction.