Home Featured News GRCC Volleyball defeats Mott Community College to win MCCAA State Championship

GRCC Volleyball defeats Mott Community College to win MCCAA State Championship

GRCC volleyball team pose with MCCAA Championship plaque after the win (Kaia Zimmerman/The Collegiate)

The Grand Rapids Community College women’s volleyball team won the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) State Championship for the eighth time in the program’s history, defeating Mott Community College in four sets (25-22, 21-25, 30-28, 25-17).

“It feels so good,” said freshman Audrey Torres when talking about winning the championship. “…We put up a good fight and (we) were challenged… we were happy to come out with a win, so it feels awesome.” 

Along with the win, it was announced that GRCC head coach Chip Will was named MCCAA Coach of the Year. 

“It’s just a testament to the kids, the coaching staff, (and) everybody doing their job,” Will said. “It’s always a program first for us, so individual awards are great, but at the end of the day it is about (the) team.”

The bench players for the Raiders made a huge impact on the team’s overall performance, especially freshmen Eliza Thelen (five kills and two blocks) and Morgan Fugate (seven digs, six kills and one block), highlighting the depth the Raiders have this season.

“We have told the kids ‘you never know when your number is going to get called, so you (have) to be ready’,” Will said. “Our depth is a strength. The fact that we have the ability to put anybody in there and (they can) contribute. I was really proud of those kids.” 

The defense for the Raiders also made a huge impact in the win, as their aggressiveness led to the Bears having trouble getting any points that weren’t earned. Defensively, the Raiders were led by redshirt-freshman Audrey Gower who had 20 digs and freshman Ola Nowak who had 16. 

“We made some really scrappy plays today defensively,” Will said. “… It’s pretty frustrating to the other team to not be able to get a kill, so I like that we can be big offensively, but also play some great defense too.” 

The Raiders were led by Torres who had 13 kills, 12 digs, four aces and three blocks. 

Sophomores Annie Holesinger (11 kills and two blocks) and Kylie Oberlin (12 kills and five blocks) also led on the offensive attack to make their last game at Gordon Hunsberger Arena an impactful one. 

After a long break in the beginning of the first set due to lineup issues, the Raiders were able to take the early lead with two runs to put them up 10-5. Shortly after, the Raiders were able to go on another run aided by Torres and Holesinger and an ace from freshman Charlie Baker, leading to a Bears timeout. Following the timeout, the Raiders continued their dominance, extending their lead, 17-11. The Bears were able to mount a small comeback, scoring four-straight points on the Raiders’ set point to make it 24-22. The Raiders were able to finish off the set 25-22 from a kill by Oberlin following a brief timeout. 

It was a back and forth battle to begin the second set with no team pulling ahead. No team was able to go up by more than two points until the last few points of the set. The Bears were able to go up 21-17 which allowed them to take the advantage and close out the second set 25-21 to tie the match at one each. 

Torres secured three-straight points for the Raiders to give them an early 3-0 lead. The Bears would slowly decrease the Raiders’ lead and ended up tying it at 9 each. After a long rally that ended in a Raiders point, GRCC seemed much more relaxed and seemed to have the momentum on their side. After the long rally, the Raiders were able to go up 17-11 off kills from Fugate and Thelen and a block from Oberlin and Fugate, leading to a Bears timeout. Following the Mott timeout, the Bears were able to go on a six-point run to take the lead, 20-18. The Bears were able to extend their lead even more, going up 23-19. The Raiders were able to bounce back and go on a five-point run to take the lead, 24-23, after back-to-back aces from Torres and a Holesinger kill. 

The Bears were able to tie it at 24 each, creating a win by two scenario in order to secure the set. The Bears took the next point, but the Raiders struck back with a kill from Fugate. It was a back and forth battle with no team giving up a second point to the other. The Raiders were down 28-27 when Oberlin secured the point on a kill to tie it at 28 each. Following the kill, Thelen was able to step up and get the kill to go up by one. The Raiders were able to secure the next point to win the crucial third set, 30-28, and created a 2-1 lead. 

Following the crazy finish in the third set, the Raiders jumped out early in the fourth set, going up 7-1. The Bears were able to get back into the game, but shortly after, the Raiders were able to go on a run to go up 18-8. During the run, the defense had a huge play where Gower pancaked the ball that then went off Nowak’s head to Torres who kicked it over the net to give them the point, giving all the momentum to the Raiders. The Raiders had another long rally that ended with a kill from freshman Karissa Ferry. The Raiders would be able to close out the match after a Bears run, 25-17. 

The Raiders saw contributions from Ferry (five kills and five digs), freshman Shannon Russell (37 assists, 11 digs and three kills) and redshirt-freshman Kara Hecht (three kills, three digs, and one block).

The Raiders will travel to Port Huron to face off against the winner of Lansing Community College and Muskegon Community College in the Great Lakes B District Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m.

Editor’s note: The Collegiate updated this story on Nov. 1, 2021 at 4:03 p.m. to fix the stat that incorrectly stated the volleyball team won their sixth-consecutive MCCAA Championship.

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