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GRCC defeats KVCC in sixth-straight win for first place in the conference standings

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Right side hitter Karissa Ferry and setter Shannon Russel share an embrace after scoring a point. (Kennedy Rappleye/The Collegiate)

The Grand Rapids Community College women’s volleyball team defeated Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) in three-straight sets (25-17, 25-19, 25-22) Thursday, Sept. 23 to remain undefeated in the conference.

Coming into the match, both teams were undefeated in the conference (5-0), tying for the first place position. With the win on Thursday, the Raiders are now the only undefeated team in the MCCAA Western Conference. 

“It feels really good,” said sophomore Annie Holesinger when talking about securing the first place position. “Coming into this, we knew it was going to be a tough game since they beat Muskegon, but it felt good keeping our home court ours and not letting anyone come out and beat us.” 

The Raiders held a consistent lead the whole match, never letting the Cougars back into the game. 

“I thought we came out really focused,” said GRCC head coach Chip Will. “We knew this was to take the overall lead of the conference, so we came out really engaged… We have had a lot of tough opponents this year, playing some of the country’s best, where maybe they haven’t played such tough competition, so I think it was kind of an awakening moment for (KVCC).” 

Holesinger has continued to dominate for the Raiders as she finished the night with 12 kills, three digs, and two blocks. This is Holesinger’s third-straight game with double-digit kills. 

“If it wasn’t for (my teammates) passing, if it wasn’t for their setting… I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”  

The Cougars started off the first set with a kill to take the first point. The Raiders responded right away with a five-point run to go up 5-1. Following back-to-back points for the Cougars, the Raiders shot right back, going on a four point run to extend their lead with three of the points from Holesinger. 

Following a Cougars timeout, the Raiders were able to secure three-straight points from two kills and freshman Shannon Russell’s ace. The Raiders were able to keep a comfortable lead and take the first set off of a service error by the Cougars, 25-17.

The second set started out a lot closer than the previous with no team being able to pull ahead. The Raiders were able to create a little distance, going up 15-11 in the middle of the set. Following a Raiders timeout, sophomore Kylie Oberlin had a kill, followed by an ace from redshirt-freshman Audrey Gower to extend their lead. Even though the set was close to begin, the Raiders were able to extend their lead and finish off the set, 25-19, from a kill from Holesinger to go up 2-0. 

After back-to-back points from the Cougars to start the third set, the Raiders went on a five-point run once more to make it 5-2. The Raiders continued a tremendous run as they quickly found themselves with a 16-6 lead. However, the Cougars weren’t ready to go home and mounted a comeback making it 21-18.

After a back and forth battle, the Raiders were one point away from securing the match. Freshman Rylee Vanpatten went for the winning kill that soared out of bounds. The line judge then called a tip ball on the Cougars, meaning they saw KVCC touch the ball last which would give the Raiders the win. The controversial call led to a long discussion that was eventually ruled a replay of the previous possession. When the play was about to resume, the judge stopped the game yet again to discuss it further, ultimately coming up with the decision that KVCC did not touch the ball and the point was in favor of the Cougars. After the long break, Oberlin was able to take the set with a kill for the Raiders, 25-22. 

The sixth-straight win for the Raiders saw contributions from Oberlin (nine kills, three digs, and one block), Russell (31 assists, six digs, and three kills), freshman Audrey Torres (nine digs, three kills, and two assists), and freshman Karissa Ferry (seven kills).

The Raiders will look to continue their success in the conference when they face off against Lansing Community College on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

“We haven’t seen (LCC) much,” Will said. “Anytime you can get a road win that’s important, so we gotta make sure that we just stay focused, stay engaged, and keep grinding.” 

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