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GRCC Volleyball Concludes Regular Season with 8-4 Record, Advances to Great Lakes District Tournament Semi-Finals

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The GRCC volleyball team huddled up before facing Glen Oaks on March 16. (Breegan Petruska/The Collegiate)

By Anthony Clark Jr.

In a 3-0 season series closeout, the Grand Rapids Community College women’s volleyball team dominated the Lake Michigan Red Hawks once more on Friday, March 26. The 3-0 victory was the final home and regular season game of the season and brought the Raiders to a .667% win percentage overall.

Sophomore Kylie Oberlin was productive for the team once more as she led the Raiders’ offense with 12 kills. The team also received contributions from freshman Kara Hecht (11 kills), sophomore Gabi Kitley (six kills), as well as sophomore Annie Holesinger and freshman Zari Kruger (four kills each).

Freshman Audrey Gower had another notable performance with a contribution to the defense of 15 digs, while sophomore Kailey Carmean continues to be the spine of the Raiders’ offense as she finished with 25 of the team’s total 33 assists.

Although the Raiders were able to finish the regular season with a win, their offensive attack did not consist of the typical aggression spectators have seen throughout the season. The team finished with a low .065% kill rate, which was the team’s second-lowest of the season (.026% lowest of the season).

In a span of 10 days, the Raiders played five games, a double-header, a season-high two and a half hour match, and faced a nationally ranked opponent (Muskegon) – all factors that subsequently created waves of exhaustion and fatigue. With the extra day off for resting or practice, the team will hope to avoid more offensive struggles and produce a rhythmic game-plan execution during the remainder of the season.

The Raiders were originally scheduled to face off against Henry Ford College in the quarter-finals of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Great Lakes District A Tournament, but the game was canceled for an unspecified reason. This cancelation advanced the Raiders to the semi-finals of the tournament where they will face the St. Clair County Skippers.

“While I’m disappointed that we are missing out on another opportunity to compete, we are determined to bring another win for the Raiders,” Gower said about the first-round matchup being yet another game that was canceled this season. “I wish everyone well at Henry Ford and I am excited to get back out there on Wednesday.”

GRCC freshman Kara Hecht taps the ball over the net against Glen Oaks on March 16. Breegan Petruska | The Collegiate Live

Kitley noted the team will benefit more than suffer from the quarter-final cancellation since it will provide more time to recover from the depleting 10-day stretch and focus on the upcoming tournament battle(s).

“I don’t think the cancellation will affect the team much, in all honesty,” Kitley said. “It gives us a chance to rest up for bigger games in the following week or so.”

Two thoughts come into mind when looking forward to the semi-final match against the unknown opponent: the Raiders were able to dominate Ancilla College throughout the regular season (3-0) and would have likely been more comfortable facing a familiar opponent that has not been much of a threat. Secondly, the team has not faced the St. Clair Skippers this season, a second seed powerhouse for the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) Eastern Conference. Both second seed teams will look to showcase a vigorous effort to advance to the championship game on April 2.

Head coach Chip Will and other Raiders could not be reached for comment at the time this article was published.

The semi-finals match is scheduled for Wednesday, March 31, but has yet to be given a specific time – updates and more information regarding the tournament can be found on the GRCC Athletics page.

Viewers can livestream the match on the GRCC YouTube Channel.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 29 at 9:57 p.m. to reflect the next opponent for the GRCC volleyball team.

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