The Grand Rapids Community College women’s volleyball team defeated Lake Michigan Community College in four sets (25-12, 25-14, 21-25, 26-24) to give them a 2-0 start to conference play in the 2021 season. The Raiders are now 5-5 overall for the regular-season.
The Raiders dominated in the first two sets making it seem like it would be a quick night, but a huge momentum change in the third set gave the Redhawks a chance to get back in the match. However, the Raiders shut down any attempt at a comeback and closed the game with a win in the fourth set.
“I thought for the most part we played really well,” said GRCC head coach Chip Will. “There was a let down in the third set. We tried to get everyone some playing time, and unfortunately we weren’t able to pull that one out, and that cost us. Sometimes it’s tough to get the momentum back after you let it up, so I was proud of our kids for the end.”
Sophomore Annie Holesinger continued her success with six kills and six blocks. After sitting most of the third set to get some of the rotation players involved, Holesinger checked back in and quickly got the momentum back for the Raiders.
“That’s when you rely on your older kids,” said Will when talking about losing the momentum in the third set. “… We can say stuff as coaches to the kids, but it is more important when it’s coming from the kids. That’s when you rely on your leaders to be the ones to run the show for you.”
As well as Holesinger, freshman Audrey Torres had a solid game with 10 digs, eight kills and three blocks. Torres, alongside the handful of other incoming freshmen, have made an impact that has helped the team start the season on a promising note.
The Raiders came out strong right out the gate when Torres started the first set with a big kill. They were able to comfortably keep their lead throughout the first set after they went on a solid run to make it 16-8. In the first set, the Redhawks were unable to find their footing, leading to a comfortable win for the Raiders, 25-12.
In the second set, the Raiders were able to continue their dominance over the Redhawks. After ending a small run from the Redhawks, the Raiders were able to have a run of their own when freshman Charlie Baker had two-straight aces, helping extend the lead for the Raiders. Similar to the first set, the Raiders kept the lead the entire set. The Raiders were able to easily take the second set winning 25-14.
When the match seemed like it was going to be easily taken by the Raiders, the Redhawks got off to a quick start in the third set to take their first lead of the whole match. Even after the good start from LMCC, the Raiders made a steady comeback and even took the lead going up by seven points. However, the Redhawks bounced back going on a six-point run. A long volley that led into a huge kill for the Redhawks shifted the momentum completely, and the Redhawks started pulling away to win their first set of the night, 25-21.
Holesinger commented on the momentum shift that occurred during the third set, noting that it was tough for the Raiders to regain their rhythm and close the game out.
“It was tough,” Holesinger said. “We had a lot of our second string players get some nice playing time, so I think it was tough having to sit on the bench, and then having to go back in.”
The Raiders started off with some costly errors in the fourth set to go down 7-3 early. Holesinger stepped up for the Raiders when she had two kills and a block in a five-point run by the Raiders to take the lead. It was close throughout the set with no team pulling away, making it come down to the last few points. Following a Raiders timeout, sophomore Kylie Oberlin had a powerful kill to put the Raiders up 25-24. GRCC had to win by two, and in the final point, the Redhawks had a double contact violation ending the match, 26-24.
Oberlin was a significant piece in the Raiders win (six blocks and three kills), alongside freshman Morgan Fugate (three kills and one block), freshman Karissa Ferry (six kills and five blocks), and Ola Nowak (25 assists, three aces, and two blocks).
The Raiders will look to continue their success when they travel to Plymouth, Indiana to face off against Ancilla College on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Collegiate reporter Emma Marriott contributed to this report.