Bulldog volleyball outlasts GVSU, 3-2

No. 22 Ferris State rallies past No. 14 Grand Valley State to force a tie atop the GLIAC standings

BIG RAPIDS — With a capacity crowd at the Ewigleben Sports Arena on Tuesday night, the No. 22 Ferris State volleyball team had revenge on its mind as it defeated No. 14 Grand Valley State in five sets, 3-2, to set up a first-place tie atop the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division.

OUT OF REACH: (ABOVE) Ferris State’s Caroline Heitzman (14) tries to tip the ball over the outstretched arms of Grand Valley State’s Abby Aiken (12) during a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) match at Ewigleben Sports Arena on Tuesday. The Bulldogs came away with a 3-2 victory over the Lakers to force a tie with GVSU atop the GLIAC standings. (BELOW) FSU’s Megan Vander Meer gets ready to send a serve over to the Lakers. (Pioneer photos/Daine Pavloski)

OUT OF REACH: (ABOVE) Ferris State’s Caroline Heitzman (14) tries to tip the ball over the outstretched arms of Grand Valley State’s Abby Aiken (12) during a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) match at Ewigleben Sports Arena on Tuesday. The Bulldogs came away with a 3-2 victory over the Lakers to force a tie with GVSU atop the GLIAC standings. (BELOW) FSU’s Megan Vander Meer gets ready to send a serve over to the Lakers. (Pioneer photos/Daine Pavloski)

The Bulldogs (16-5, 13-1 GLIAC) fell to the Lakers (17-4, 13-1 GLIAC) on Sept. 23 in Allendale, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t be denied in front of their home crowd on Tuesday, winning the second, fourth and fifth sets to take the conference tilt.

“I do know that we love to play at home and we love to play for our fans,” Ferris State head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm said. “We have some very loyal fans and people from the community and people from the university, student athletes, and just so many people that are so loyal and supportive of us and we love to play for them.”

In the first set, the Bulldogs went on an early 4-0 run to jump out to a 5-2 lead, but the Lakers answered right back and ran away, taking a 17-12 lead before FSU’s Alexis Huntey tallied a block to make it 17-13.

The Bulldogs fought back, cutting the deficit to three at 22-19 on a kill from Megan Vander Meer, but the Lakers kept the home team at bay, taking the first set 25-20.

The Lakers picked up where they left off to start the second set, sprinting out to a 5-0 lead, but the Bulldogs came back again with a block from Caroline Heitzman to tie things up at 7-7.

Both sides traded points before the Lakers made a little breathing room at 16-13, but a 4-0 Bulldog run gave the home squad a 17-16 lead. The Lakers tied things up again at 18-all, but FSU was able to take the set, 25-21.

The Lakers took the third set, 25-18, after another early run, but the Bulldogs answered in the fourth set with their backs against the wall, taking a 25-19 decision to send the contest to a tie-breaking fifth set as the top two teams in the GLIAC North proved to be evenly-matched foes.

“I don’t know that much was different (than the first time we played them), it was still really a battle,” Brandel-Wilhelm said. “I think we kept our wits about ourselves a bit more (Tuesday), but it was just a battle and I’m sure that’s what it’ll always be, because I’m sure we’ll see them once or twice more.”

The Lakers started out with the advantage again in the fifth set, taking a 3-1 lead, but the Bulldogs, as they had all night, fought back and captured a 4-3 lead on an attack error by Grand Valley.

The Lakers made the lead two at 13-11 but, after a Bulldog timeout, Courtney Rehm and Heitzman tallied back-to-back kills to make it 13-13, bringing the home crowd to its feet.

With nearly deafening FSU chants filling the arena, the Bulldogs battled and benefited from back-to-back attack errors by GVSU’s Abby Aiken, giving the Bulldogs the 17-15 decision and the 3-2 win to knot things up atop the GLIAC North.

“Grand Valley is a really good volleyball team, so of course we’re excited to get a win over such a great team,” Brandel-Wilhelm said. “It’s the GLIAC. You have to be ready to play every single night and you can’t think about what is done. We have to start thinking about what’s coming next.”

Rehm led the Bulldogs with 20 kills and 13 digs while Huntey chipped in 23 digs with Stephanie Sikorski dishing out 34 assists. Vander Meer and Heitzman both chipped in nine kills apiece in the win.

The Bulldogs return to action on Friday at Lake Superior State followed by a contest at Northwood on Saturday.

Leave a Reply