The Grand Rapids Community College women’s volleyball team defeated Lansing Community College in three-straight sets (25-11, 25-19, 25-20) to become the fifth Raider team in history to go undefeated in conference play. The Raiders finished the regular season 20-5 overall and 14-0 in the conference.
“I think there have only been four other teams in Raider history that have had this accomplishment,” said head coach Chip Will about the undefeated record. “It’s tough when you have a target on your back every single night, and teams are gunning for you. It’s hard not to have a slip up… we have had some close matches but overall to be able to stay focused and stay disciplined every single night, especially on the road, it’s a pretty awesome accomplishment.”
The matchup versus LCC was the annual Pink Night where the Raiders raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.
“It’s thinking outside of ourselves (and) it’s knowing that something is bigger than us as an individual,” Will said.
This game meant a lot to the players and fans, as many have had a family member or they themselves have dealt with this illness – proving that sometimes this is more than a game.
“We have a lot of parents and grandparents that have battled with cancer,” said sophomore Annie Holesinger. “My grandma has battled with cancer four different times, so playing for her means a lot.”
The Raiders were led by Holesinger who had 11 kills and five blocks. A lot of emotions went into this game as this was Holesinger’s final regular season game as a Raider.
“It’s very tough to realize that three years is coming to an end, but I wouldn’t want to finish it out with any other team,” Holesinger said.
The Raiders were also led by freshman Audrey Torres who had 12 kills along with seven digs and three blocks.
The Raiders jumped out early, going on a five-point run to go up 9-3 against the Stars. Following a Stars timeout, the Raiders were able to go on another run, aided by a Holesinger kill and block, and a Torres kill to extend the lead, 22-9. The Raiders closed the set with a tremendous 25-11 win.
Holesinger came out on fire in the second set with two kills and a block to give the Raiders an early lead, 5-1. The Raiders were able to keep a consistent lead throughout the set for the most part, but the Stars were able to go on a short run to decrease the Raiders’ lead by two, 12-10. The Raiders didn’t allow the momentum swing to continue, as they were able to bounce back right away and extend the lead to 17-11. The Stars didn’t let up after the Raiders took the lead, fighting back to bring the set to 22-18. Following a Raiders timeout, freshman Karissa Ferry came up big with a kill to give the Raiders the momentum to finish out the second set, winning 25-19.
The Raiders started the third set strong, going up 4-1. The Stars were able to combat the good start with back-to-back aces to give them a 9-8 lead. Following a Stars timeout, Torres had back-to-back kills to get the lead back for the Raiders, 14-11. The Raiders were able to keep a consistent lead to win the third set, 25-20, and secure their 18th straight win.
The Raiders saw contributions from redshirt-freshman Kara Hecht (12 digs, six kills and three aces), freshman Ola Nowak (30 assists, eight digs and three kills), and redshirt-freshman Audrey Gower (15 digs and six assists)
Going into postseason play, Will is looking for the Raiders to be versatile, which he believes will lead to their success.
“We are just trying to become better volleyball players across the board,” Will said. “I think instead of just being (like) ‘I’m a middle or I’m an outside or I’m a setter,’ we have really proven that just becoming a (better) volleyball player… is going to help in the long run.”
The Raiders will begin their postseason play in a first seed showdown against Mott Community College on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. at the Ford Fieldhouse in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Championship.