Home Featured News GRCC volleyball starts the season 5-3 after two early season tournaments

GRCC volleyball starts the season 5-3 after two early season tournaments

Photo courtesy of GRCC Athletics

Heading into the 2023 season, the Grand Rapids Community College Volleyball team had high expectations as they finished last season 27-4.

With the losses of Audrey Torres, Eliza Thelen, Karissa Ferry and Alena Visnovsky, the Raiders are tasked with replacing production while facing some early talent on the schedule.

In their first match of the season, GRCC faced the No.14 ranked Moraine Valley Community College at the OWT NJCAA Opening Weekend Tournament on Friday, Aug. 18. The Raiders defeated the Cyclones in four sets, 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20. 

Sophomore outside hitter Braelyn Berry led all players in kills with 16, followed by freshman middlebacker Lillian Peterson’s 13 kills, and freshman outside hitter Sophia Ritsema added 10 kills. Freshman setter Carle Bruggema led the team with 40 assists while freshman outside hitter Lizzie MacIntosh had a team-high 22 digs. 

Following the victory, the Raiders prepared for one of the best teams in the tournament, the No.10 ranked Kirkwood Community College. GRCC played better as the match went on, but the Eagles trounced the Raiders in three sets, 18-25, 20-25, 22-25. MacIntosh led the team with 13 kills while Ritsema added three blocks. 

The following day, the Raiders had back-to-back games against top-15 ranked opponents, including their first matchup against No.11 Illinois Central College. With Peterson’s 21 kills, GRCC stunned the Cougars in four sets, winning 25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 25-21. Sophomore setter Autumn Cole led the team with 24 assists along with sophomore libero Vienna Koenigsknecht team-high three aces. 

Heading into the final game of the Raider’s first tournament, they looked to finish 3-1 after facing No. 15 ranked Gulf Coast State College. Unfortunately, that did not come into fruition as the Raiders lost in four sets, 17-25, 14-25, 25-22, 20-25. Bruggema had a team-high 29 assists and MacIntosh added 12 kills. 

With the opening tournament out of the way, GRCC traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for another four games. They faced South Mountain Community College on Wednesday, Aug. 23, and were overmatched in the fifth and final set, losing 25-21, 20-25, 23-25, 25-22, 18-20. Once again, Bruggema led the team with 26 assists while Peterson added five blocks. 

GRCC traveled to Tucson, Arizona where their final three games would be played along with the Pima Community College Tournament. Prior to the tournament, GRCC faced Pima CC on Thursday, Aug. 24, as the Raiders found their footing after the first set, winning 14-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-21. Peterson notched a game-high eight blocks while getting a team-high 11 kills. 

The final two games were the PCC Tournament, where the Raiders looked to finish their Arizona trip with a 3-1 record. Glendale Community College was their first opponent, and the Raiders did not take long to take hold of the match. In only three sets, GRCC dismantled 25-20, 25-11, 25-21. Bruggema had 32 assists, Berry had a game-high 14 kills, and Peterson added five blocks. 

Later in the evening, the Raiders defeated their last opponent, Southeastern Community College, in four sets, winning 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 26-24. Berry had an astonishing five aces while Bruggema continued her selfless play leading the team with 39 assists. Peterson and Berry added a combined 27 kills. 

As the Raiders work their way through the conference schedule, these early season tournaments will be crucial to look back upon and see how the team progressed. A 5-3 record after the two tournaments while notching multiple ranked wins has prepared the Raiders for the rest of the season.  

No. 12 ranked GRCC takes on Grace Christian University on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at the Ford Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m.

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