HAMMOND, Ind. – The Lake Superior State volleyball team earned its first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) win of the 2017 season, defeating the Purdue Northwest Pride on the road. The Lakers (2-13, 1-8 GLIAC) downed the Pride (5-14, 1-8 GLIAC) in straight sets (25-23, 28-26, 25-21) in the Saturday, October 7th matchup.
"It's nice to put one in the win column," said Lakers head coach Dave Schmidlin. "The team played well together and managed their emotions very well when it was close. They followed our game plan and created opportunities to score. I've been happy with how this group has played all year, but, eventually the moral victories lose their effect. It's nice for them to see their hard work pay off with a real win."
The last conference victory for Lake Superior came in the 2014 season, when they defeated Lake Erie 3-1. The last time the Lakers won a conference matchup in straight sets was in October of 2013, when they downed Tiffin 3-0.
In the first set, play was even through the early going. Following a kill by the Pride's Morgan Spencer, Purdue Northwest took the lead, eventually climbing ahead 22-16 lead. The Lakers, with kills by Amanda Reid, Elizabeth Ballor, earned the next five points to cut the deficit to one point. Although the Pride gained another point on the Lakers by virtue of a bad set to make it 23-21 Pride, Lake Superior took the next four points for the win. A kill by Jen Marren sealed the deal for Lake Superior, as they claimed victory in set number one, 25-23.
Set number two kicked off in much of the same manner as the first set, with both teams trading points in the early going. A six point run put Lake Superior ahead 13-8, before the Pride answered with a five point run of their own to tie the set. Although Purdue Northwest crept ahead of Lake Superior late in the set, the Lakers battled back to tie it up at 23-23 with a kill by Kyra Vezina.
The set wound up going past 25 points, as Purdue Northwest had three opportunities for the game point, but the Lakers retied the game each time. Finally, with the set tied at 26 all, Reid put up two straight kills to claim a 28-26 win in the second set.
With the first opportunity to win a match in the third set all season, Schmidlin told his players to try and minimized their unfocused errors.
Lake Superior earned the first two points of the third set, before the Pride took an early lead on a 5-0 run. The Lakers answered back with a run of their own, jumping ahead 11-7 and causing Purdue Northwest to burn a timeout. Although the teams traded points back and forth coming out of the timeout, the Lakers were not to be denied, eventually opening up a 20-13 lead on the home team. A Brooke Williams kill put Lake Superior one point away from victory, but the Pride scored the next two points in an effort to hold off the Lakers. As she did in the first set, Marren earned the kill to win the set 25-21 and the match 3-0.
"Liz Ballor and Karlee Weissend did a great job in transition and really put stress on the Purdue Northwest block," said Schmidlin. "Brooke Williams and Jen Marren both blocked and hit well. Maddie Castle and Lauren Lukasik ran a good offense. Our serve receive was good enough. Paige Gotham, Amanda Reid and Justice Kjolhede played great defense.
Purdue Northwest was led by Gabrielle Martin with 10 kills and 11 digs, and Kayla Elsea, who had 5 blocks. Both Martin and Elsea had 11.5 points apiece.
Next up for the Lakers are two matches in the Mizuno Midwest Region Crossover in Aurora, Illinois. Playing on Friday and Saturday, October 13th and 14, the Lakers opponents and game times are yet to be determined.
Lake Superior returns home Friday, October 27th to face Northern Michigan. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Bud Cooper Gymnasium. Tickets may be purchased at the Norris Center Ticket Office or at lssulakers.com/tickets.