Head volleyball coach Chip Will secured his 400th career win as the Grand Rapids Community College women’s volleyball team defeated conference rival Muskegon Community College in a five-set showdown.
Will has had a successful career with the Raiders, and this latest milestone adds to the long list of accomplishments at GRCC. Since the start of his career with the Raiders in 2006, Will has raked in 10 regional championships, nine conference titles and has made nine appearances in the NJCAA National Tournament – securing a national championship in 2012.
“It was really special,” Will said. “I didn’t know that it was happening, but it was really special that we had so many people here, so many alumni come back, (and) so many families. So to do that with them, because they were all a part of it, was pretty awesome.”
The tiresome battle was the first time the Raiders have finished a match, in a win or loss, in five sets this season.
“Muskegon battles us,” Will said. “It’s one of those matches where every single year each team is going to play their best and want to defeat each other. Obviously, to win on your home floor is important. It was fun. That’s all you want when you play them; to have a great battle and compete and both teams did that.”
The Raiders were led by sophomore Annie Holesinger who put up 23 kills along with five blocks. Holesinger came alive in the fifth set with a crucial six points to propel the Raiders to a win.
Along with Holesinger, the Raiders were led by standout freshman Audrey Torres who had 16 kills and 15 digs – securing her third-straight game in double digits in the two categories.
The Raiders fell early in the first set, going down 12-5. Following a block by freshman Karissa Ferry and two kills from Holesinger, it seemed the Raiders were back in the game and had the momentum, cutting the Jayhawks lead down to one, 14-13. It was a back and forth battle between the two teams throughout the rest of the set with the Jayhawks pulling away to win set one, 25-20.
Following the disappointing first set, the Raiders quickly jumped to a 7-3 lead to start the second and regain some momentum. Following the good start by the Raiders, the Jayhawks came back to take the lead, 11-10. Following the lead change, the Raiders had a big spark of energy when freshman Eliza Thelen came up with a big block to tie it up at 11. After the big block, the Raiders went on a five point run to take the lead, forcing a Jayhawks timeout.
Prior to the Raiders’ run, it seemed like the crowd was out of it and all the momentum was in favor of the Jayhawks, but when MCC called the timeout, the home fans began to come alive to help energize the Raiders. The Raiders were able to extend their lead throughout the set, and would take set two, 25-19, tying the match at one set a piece.
The third set was another tough battle with no clear front runner. The Jayhawks were able to take a 13-7 prior to a controversial official decision. Following the controversial point that was in favor of the MCC, the Raiders bounced back with a four-point run with two blocks from Holesinger and two kills from Torres and redshirt-freshman Kara Hecht to cut down the Jayhawks lead to two. After back and forth points between the two teams, the Raiders were able to take set three on three-straight points, 25-22.
Holesinger and Torres each got two kills each to get out to a 4-2 lead to start out the fourth set. Again, it was a close game throughout the entire set, but the Jayhawks were able to go on a four-point run to take the fourth set, leading to the Raiders playing their first fifth set of the season.
In a match that goes to five sets, the first team to reach 15 points wins. The Jayhawks jumped out quickly to a 6-3 lead, causing a Raider timeout. Following the timeout, Holesinger went on a run of her own with three kills to take the lead, 7-6. Hecht had a huge block to extend the Raiders’ lead, causing the home fans to cheer the loudest they had all night. The momentum shift forced the Jayhawks to call a timeout of their own. Following the timeout, Thelen and Holesinger had kills to put the Raiders one point away from securing the match. On the match point, Torres was able to come up with a kill to get the Raiders a 15-10 set win and secure the match, 3-2.
The Raiders’ win was also aided by freshman Shannon Russell, who set a career high with 53 assists along with three blocks and three aces, freshman Ola Nowak (16 digs and seven assists) and Hecht (17 digs, eight kills, and a block).
The Raiders are now 15-5 overall and 9-0 in conference play. They will look to extend their 12-game winning streak when they travel to Benton Harbor to face off against Lake Michigan Community College on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m.