Grand Rapids, MI- Coach John Spooner knew facing cross town rival Kuyper College would be different than the first meeting. “Kuyper had beaten Northland International last week one set, though losing 3-1 in the match. They are well coached and would be much improved. We need to bring a strong focus to this match.”
Indeed in the first set the Tigers did just that jumping out to a commanding lead behind solid serving and well placed attacks before posting a 25-12 win. Urging the team to compete for every point and not rest on the success of the first set Coach Spooner knew there could be a let down. “We are still a young team but we need to find a way to maintain focus and intensity not letting teams back into a match. In this second set we beat ourselves by not playing in the context of our success. Minimal attack and passing errors.”
The Tigers found themselves in a deep hole as Kuyper started to put the ball in play much more tactfully against the Tiger defense. Down 16-9 GBC fought back to 23-23. However Kuyper’s setter placed a great tip over the Tiger block and Kuyper won 25-23.
“We know what we need to do and were disappointed in how we lost focus and failed to compete at a higher level for every point. But I think losing showed you can’t take any team for granted and still win playing sloppy ball. We just need to find ourselves again and put the ball in play. We had a total of 23 attack errors for the entire match and 15 of them were in that second set alone.” Coach Spooner noted in looking at the stat report.
In the third set the Tigers again found great strength in serving to designated zones and appropriate attacks winning 25-14.
In the forth set it looked like the bad habits of the second set had found it’s way back as the Tigers got down 10-5. But some great inspirational defense by Jessica Ryan (Hopkins HS; Hopkins, MI), and serving brought the Tigers roaring back. “It was like someone pulled a switch and the light went on. We just got into a rhythm and while Kuyper played well we just pushed to another level competitively.” Coach Spooner said. A number of long rallies marked this set as neither team would give up easily. In the end though it was serving and better passing by the Tigers that prevailed winning the set and match 25-14.
Again balanced attacks showed the versitility of the Tiger offense with Nichole Galbiscek team high 11 kills, followed by Joee Spooner’s 10 and Naomi Kemper with 8. Nichole also had 6 of the team high 13 aces. Shelby Jamieson had 25 assists along with 5 aces and 9 digs. Jessica Ryan led with 22 digs, and Naomi Kemper 27 serve recieves with only 1 error. Leslie Pumford had 6 of the team high 14 blocks along with Joey Spooner’s 4.
With the win tonight the Tigers clinched at least a 5 seed in the upcoming regional tournament. “We are starting to get people healthy again, and that really helps the overall team success. Britteny Ramirez came back tonight and although Nichole is still suffering from some muscle bruising she still stepped up leading the team in aces and kills. This was a big win for us against a cross town rival and gives us confidence going into the matches on Saturday during alumni weekend.” Coach Spooner.
The Tigers welcome Mt. Mary College, an NCAA III team, and Dayspring Bible College to the homecoming Saturday triangular. Any spectator who reads this post and tells Coach Spooner the phrase-”Stay Low” will get a complimentary popcorn courtesy of Grace Volleyball. Come out and enjoy a great weekend!