FIVE SET THRILLER: Lake State Outlasts Wildcats

Story courtesy of LSSU Athletics and NMU Sports Information

he Lake Superior State volleyball team earned a well-deserved 3-2 victory in front of a spirited home crowd in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) match against the Northern Michigan Wildcats on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The Lakers improved to 1-3 in conference play this season after winning the match by scores of 25-15, 15-25, 25-19, 24-26, and 15-12.

In the first set, the Lakers built an early 6-3 lead after recording the first three straight points to open the game. Sydney Briney notched back-to-back service aces to extend the Laker lead to 8-3. The home team fed off their home crowd to go on a six point run in the first set as Camdyn Odykirk led the way with three big kills (14-6). Lake State continued to build the lead until eventually taking a double-digit advantage (18-8) over the Wildcats.

A service error by Northern would give the Lakers their 25th point of the set as they took a 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-15 win.

The Wildcats responded in the second set by taking an early 5-1 lead. However, the Lakers would answer to tie the set at six on another ace from Briney. NMU scored five consecutive points to regain the lead (11-6). Northern Michigan's offense continued to control the set, taking a 19-10 lead despite a number of long rallies between the two UP rivals. The match was tied at one apiece following the Wildcats 25-15 win in the second set. 

The third set was evenly matched between the two rivals as the score was tied at 16, and neither team led by more than three points up to that point in the set. The Lakers would change that with five consecutive points to lead 21-16 in part to a pair of blocks by Halle Grulke and Emilee McDaniel. The Lakers held off the Wildcats in the final plays of the set to once again take the lead in the match (2-1) with a 25-19 third set win. 

The fourth set opened with the Wildcats grabbing an early 6-2 lead that would be erased as the Lakers tied the set at eight. Libero Emily Hagelthorn led the way with six straight serves as the Lakers went up 10-9. The set remained tied at 18 as the Lakers looked to secure the win. LSSU led 22-19 after a kill by Grulke but the Wildcats answered with a streak of three points to tie the set. After LSSU took a 24-22 lead in the set, the Wildcats forced a decisive fifth set after scoring the final four points of the set (26-24). 

In the deciding fifth set, Northern Michigan jumped ahead 5-1 but the Lakers were unphased by the deficit and tied the set at nine thanks to a kill from Odykirk.

Briney's fourth ace of the match gave the Lakers their first lead in the set as they led 11-10. Ally Gruber and Emilee McDaniel posted back-to-back kills to go 13-11. McDaniel added another kill to pull the Lakers within a point of the match victory, and McDaniel and Grulke combined for a block on the final play of the match to win the decisive fifth set 15-12. 

Jacqueline Smith had a match-high 22 kills and was second on the NMU team in digs with 14 earning a double-double for the sophomore.

Three more Wildcats had double-digit digs. Caylie Barlage led the team with 18 with Madeline Crowley coming in with 12 and Layshock having 10.

Setter Lauren Van Remortel had 44 assists marking the fifth time she has had over 40 assists in a match this season.

Both Angelina Negron and Meghan Meyer had two solo blocks each.

For LSSU, junior Taylor Fleming led the Lakers with 11 kills in the match while Gruber closed out a strong weekend with 10 kills as she played her first home series as a Laker. Bethany Wilson and McDaniel who both played solid all weekend for the Lakers each posted nine kills in the match. Grulke and Odykirk each totaled eight kills for the Lakers.

Grulke, who led the team with a .667 kill percentage in the match, led the team with 30 assists against the Wildcats. 

Defensively, the Lakers were led by their libero Hagelthorn who posted a team-leading 18 digs in the match. Briney, who was a key part of the Lakers victory, ranked second among her teammates with 11 digs against the Wildcats.