Big Rapids, Mich. - It took a full five sets, but the nationally 22nd-ranked Ferris State University women's volleyball team emerged as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (GLIAC) lone remaining unbeaten team in league play following an exciting 3-2 win over archrival and 17th-ranked Grand Valley State on Tuesday (Oct. 1) night before a capacity crowd of 600 plus fans inside FSU's Ewigleben Sports Arena.
The Bulldogs captured the first two sets by scores of 25-23 and 25-22, respectively, and appeared to have the match in control before the Lakers rallied. GVSU took the third frame 26-24 and pulled out a 25-16 triumph in the fourth set to force the deciding fifth set. However, the Bulldogs jumped out to the early lead and held on for a 15-10 victory.
Ferris State moved to 5-0 in the GLIAC with the win and now owns a 10-3 overall record this season as does GVSU, which fell to 4-1 in conference play with its first league loss. FSU has currently won four of the last five series' matchups against the Lakers to date following the showdown win.
The victory also represented the Bulldogs' sixth consecutive win this year and snapped Grand Valley State's eight-match win streak.
Ferris State had four players reach double-figures in kills with sophomore Caroline Heitzman leading the way with a match-best 17 kills on the night, marking a personal career-high. She also hit an ipressive .342 for the match with only four errors in 38 total attempts. Heitzman notched six kills in the final fifth set to lead the Bulldogs.
FSU also received 16 kills and 16 digs from junior Courtney Rehm in a double-double effort while sophomore hitter Alexis Huntey contributed 12 kills and 15 digs. Senior middle hitter Angi Kent chipped in with 10 kills for the Bulldogs.
Defensively, the Bulldogs received an impressive performance from senior libero Brandie Merren, who tallied a match-high 24 digs in the outing. Along with Rehm and Huntey, the Bulldogs also had two other players total 10 digs or more as sophomore Megan Vander Meer totaled 14 as did freshman setter Stephanie Sikorski. Vander Meer also neted nine kills.
Sikorski directed the Bulldog attack with a season-high 52 assists as FSU compiled 65 kills and hit .172 for the night compared to Grand Valley State's 53 total kills and .137 attack figure. Ferris State finished with 84 digs, six blocks, four aces and seven service errors while the Lakers also posted 84 digs to go with 10 blocks, eight aces and seven service miscues.
On the Grand Valley State side, the Lakers were led by Ally Simmons' team-high 14 kills. Betsy Ronda had 12 kills and Kaleigh Lound registered 10 in the match. Ronda joined Abby Aiken and Kaitlyn Wolters with 19 digs apiece in leading GVSU. Meanwhile, Christina Canepa added 14 digs to help the Laker cause.
The Lakers also received six block assists from Lound and 38 total assists by Wolters.
Ferris State recorded a .214 attack percentage in the deciding frame while limiting the Lakers to a .040 showing in the fifth set.
Overall, the match featured 12 lead changes and was tied 34 times, but the Bulldogs led for the entire last set.
The contest began a three-match homestand this week for the Bulldogs, who will next host Tiffin in conference play on Friday (Oct. 4) night at 7 p.m. (ET) before entertaining Ohio Dominican for another league tilt on Saturday (Oct. 5) afternoon beginning at 5 p.m. (ET) inside the Ewigleben Sports Arena.