The Ashland University volleyball team completed a GLIAC opening weekend sweep by beating Grand Valley State in straight sets, 26-24, 26-24, 25-17, on Saturday (Sept. 8) at Kates Gymnasium.
It is the first time since 1991 and the first since both were members of the GLIAC that the Eagles (9-2, 2-0 GLIAC) have swept the Lakers (7-3, 0-2 GLIAC).
"Every match we play is going to be tough so we have to be ready," said AU head coach Kevin Foeman. "We're happy about today's win, and then refocus on who we have Tuesday. It's great to start 2-0, but we have a long ways to go against a lot of tough opponents."
The first two sets were played extremely tight. GVSU held a 23-22 lead in Set 1 before kills by senior Reanne Neal and freshman Erin Krupar pushed Ashland to set point. After an error, Krupar put down a kill and Neal delivered an ace to give the Eagles a 26-24 win.
The Lakers looked poised to win the second set after taking a 22-16 lead. After an Ashland timeout, the Eagles rallied. The run started with two kills by junior Sophi Cudworth and a kill by junior Shelby Woycik tied the set at 22.
Abby Graham's kill for Grand Valley gave the visitor a lead, but Cudworth tied it with a kill and Woycik and Neal combined for a block to give AU set point. GVSU tied the set, but Neal and Cudworth put up a block and Neal's kill sealed the victory.
"We practice that every day, being down about eight, having to serve-receive and having to hold that serve," said Foeman. "They did a good job of holding the defense down, serving aggressively and not making mistakes."
The third set did not require late comebacks as the Eagles never trailed in the frame. They used a 7-2 run to stretch a 13-11 lead to a 20-13 advantage with Krupar capping the run with a kill. The Eagles scored the last four points of the match, including three kills by redshirt-junior Michaela Ping.
The Eagles were consistent in attack all day, never hitting below .200 in the three sets. They hit .230 overall and were led by Krupar's 13 kills (.267). Cudworth tallied 12 kills (.206) and Neal added 10 kills (.562) against just one error. She also had a match-high six blocks and two aces.
Staci Brower led the Lakers with 12 kills (.346), but the Eagles held the Lakers to a .146 hitting percentage.
"That sets our tone," said Foeman. "If we're going to play well, we have to play well defensively. I'm not worried about our hitting percentages, I'm worried about what we're doing on defense."
The Eagles will now travel to Wayne State on Tuesday (Sept. 11) for a 7 p.m. first serve.