Volleyball collects third straight win with weekend sweep

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The SVSU volleyball team posted its second- and third-straight win over the weekend, notching wins against Ohio Dominican and Lake Erie. The weekend sweep pushed the Cardinals back over .500 on the season, making them 9-8 overall and 5-4 in GLIAC play.

SVSU came out firing in their match against Ohio Dominican on Friday, setting the tone early by jumping out to a two-set advantage over the Panthers. Ohio Dominican did not go away quietly, however.
The Panthers clawed their way back into the game by winning tight battles in the next two sets, forcing a fifth set.

The Panthers’ Tory Thompson “stood out for them, she came out swinging and exposed our lack of blocking [in the first few sets],” senior Kaylee Schmitt said. “Their defense stayed scrappy and really made a match out of it.”

The Cardinals were able to improve their presence at the net late in the match, and SVSU was able to hold off the Panther comeback and clinch the victory, starting their weekend off on the right foot (25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 24-26, 15-13).

“We really picked up our blocking in the fifth set, which helped us to the win,” senior Kennedy Marker said. “Another big thing that worked in our favor Friday was that we kept our composure and had some good help from our bench when we needed it.”

Tamara Heller was busy in the match, collecting a career-high 21 kills and adding 20 digs. Emily Nieman also posted a career-best in the match, tallying a healthy 35 digs in the match. Marker and McKenzie Schuster were busy on both sides of the net in the match. Marker collected 11 kills offensively and five blocks defensively, while Schuster collected 10 kills and four blocks of her own.

Saturday, the Cardinals found themselves in another tight match against Lake Erie but were once again able to come out on top in five sets (16-25, 25-20, 23-25, 28-26, 15-12).

Unlike the match on Friday, SVSU fell behind early and was forced to battle back into the match. After falling behind two sets to one, the Cardinals won a crucial fourth set that pushed the match into extended play. SVSU prevailed in the fifth set once again, notching their third straight victory.

“The team’s ability to fight the past few games has been crucial for us in getting back to where we want to be in the conference,” senior Andrea Brigham said. “We had a tough but successful weekend and could not have finished without the grit and heart we displayed as a team.”

Heller continued her strong play, collecting 15 kills and 24 digs. Brigham tallied 15 kills and 12 digs of her own in the match while Schmitt led the team with 18 kills, matching her career-best. Kelly Vellucci posted a career-high 61 assists in the match.

After a strong showing this weekend, head coach Will Stanton is happy with his team’s resiliency; however, he mentioned there is still room for improvement as the team rolls into the second half of the season.

“We are playing tougher and hungrier lately,” Stanton said. “There still has to be improvement as far as execution goes, and if we can do that, we won’t have to be so scrappy and can avoid the back-and-forth battles.”

The Cardinals travel to Aurora, Illinois, next weekend for the GLIAC/GLVC Crossover Tournament. Matchups and times will be announced early this week.