The No. 5 ranked Grand Rapids Community College Raiders’ volleyball team dominated the Jackson College Jets in 3-0 sweep on Thursday night at Northview High School.
The Raiders came out of the gates ready to go in this one, and after a Dani Johnston kill to get the scoring started, GRCC poured it on jumping out to a 10-3 lead. The Jets called a timeout to try and slow the Raiders down, but the Raiders couldn’t be slowed in this set.
Another Johnston kill and a couple Kaitlin Keitzman aces later, the Jets had to call another timeout, this time now trailing 21-5. The Raiders eventually closed out the first set winning it comfortably with a score of 25-8. After the game, Johnston explained why the team came out so hot tonight.
“I think we were really just all excited for the game and excited to get after it,” Johnston said. “All of us were ready.”
That energy and excitement carried into the second set for the Raiders and once again, they jumped out to a big lead. The Jets didn’t see their first point in the second set until they were already trailing 7-0. That first Jets’ point didn’t do much for their team morale though as just minutes later they trailed 13-3 and were forced to take a timeout.
In the midst of the Raiders’ dominate performance, GRCC Head Coach Chip Will started to mix and match lineups with experience and youth. There were sophomores staying on the court while some freshman who may not see as much time were being integrated into the game plan.
“In matches like this especially at home when we have a nice crowd and a lot of the families are here, we want to make sure everyone’s getting an opportunity to play,” Will said. “But then we’re going to hold them to our expectations of that you come out and play well. I think that’s the learning curve right now is that we’re trying to get everybody some reps and playing time but also making sure that we treat everybody like they’re a starter.”
This meshing of units seemed to work just fine for the Raiders as they closed the second set out with an identical score to the first set, 25-8.
In the third set, Will started to go more towards youth on the court than a mix of freshman and veterans. The inexperience seemed to come into play as the third set was tightly contested throughout. The Jets led the Raiders 10-9 before GRCC’s second unit made a push to take the lead back 14-11. Freshman right side hitter Sarah Baxter discussed the mood of the team during the third set.
“Third set got kind of tight,” Baxter said. “We had to pull through and make sure we persevered through like being matched up. We kind of had a let down (and allowed a run) and some points (we) gave away, but we came back and fought through it towards the end.”
Baxter was one of the young players stepping up on the court for the Raiders and her three kills helped lead the way in the third set. The Raiders held a slight advantage late in the third set 21-19. Will called his first timeout of the entire match to make sure his players were on the same page.
“In the third set, we kind of had gotten to the point where we were watching a little bit,” Will said. “It’s part of that habit when you know you might win, but you gotta make sure you’re taking care of the small details.”
Will’s message got through to his young players as they closed out a tight third set 25-23 to sweep the match for a 3-0 win over the Jets. With the win, the Raiders are now 6-0 in conference play and 9-1 overall on the season.
The fifth ranked Raiders will move on from the win Thursday and set their sights on the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Cougars. They travel to Texas Township, Michigan on Tuesday, Sept. 18 to face the Cougars at 6:30 p.m. The Raiders’ next home game is Thursday, Sept. 20 when they host the Lansing Community College Stars at 6:30 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.