The Grand Rapids Community College Volleyball team hosted the annual Raider Challenge on Oct. 1 and 2 and walked away with four more wins. After a month and a half on the road, the Raiders finally came home.
“Playing at home is such a great feeling,” said sophomore outside hitter Audrey Torres. “Most of us have been here for two, if not three, years. Playing with family and friends all around is such a confidence boost. It felt really good to be surrounded by blue and gold this weekend.”
Day one for the Raiders consisted of two matches against former MCCAA Western Conference rivals, Kellogg Community College, and Lansing Community College, both of which GRCC defeated in straight sets.
GRCC took down the Bruins as a unit, with nine players tallying at least one kill, led by sophomores Kara Hecht, Karissa Ferry and Eliza Thelen all with seven. Eleven Raiders recorded a dig, led by last week’s Conference Defensive Player of the Week, sophomore Audrey Gower, who had eight.
Hecht and Torres led the Raiders on offense during the second match, recording nine kills each, while sophomore setter Shannon Russell added 22 assists and nine digs.
Day two saw the Raiders facing off against McHenry County College, who finished 10th in last year’s NJCAA National Championship tourney and is currently receiving top 20 votes. The Scots managed to push the second set past regulation and won the third outright, but the Raiders persisted and took the match 3-1.
Torres and Hecht took over for the Raider offense, tallying 33 kills and seven service aces between them.
Gower, as well as sophomore Alena Visnovsky, led GRCC’s defensive effort, with 23 digs and five blocks, respectively.
McHenry is a top tier team, and the type of competition the Raiders can expect if they earn a postseason berth.
“With the switch to a new conference, we are definitely facing less competition than in previous years,” Torres said. “In games that don’t necessarily push us as hard, we have to adjust and stay competitive even if it’s difficult”.
GRCC squared off with Lake Michigan College in the final match of the weekend, winning again in straight sets.
Torres again led the team in kills with 12 while adding four aces, and Thelen contributed 10 kills with two blocks.
The Raiders extend their win streak to 14 with an overall record of 14-2, and look to continue their success this Friday, Oct. 7, when they take on North Central Michigan College at Hunsberger Arena.
“We just have to take every opponent one at a time until conference play is over,” Gower said. “Finishing the conference (schedule) without a loss is very doable.”
Torres added, “We are all great players, but when we play together, we are unstoppable. I think if we stay working together consistently, we won’t face another loss during the regular season.”