Grace spikers stun No. 15 Pilots in sweep
MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Grace’s volleyball team registered a marquee win on Wednesday.
The Lancers swept No. 15 Bethel 3-0 on the road, making a statement in the Crossroads League as a result.
Grace improved to 11-2 on the season (2-0 CL), handing Bethel its first loss of the season (12-1, 1-1 CL). Grace is one of two teams left without a loss in the league standings, along with No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan.
On Wednesday, Grace’s offense sizzled. The Lancers pounded out 41 kills on a .283 percentage; the Pilots, conversely, had 34 kills on a .141 rate.
All three sets ended within a five-point margin of victory for Grace.
Grace set the tone immediately to begin the match, winning the first seven points. Jadyn Ross served up four aces to begin the match, and Livia Tate’s kill put Grace ahead 7-0.
The Pilots admirably rallied to tie the game at 18-18 and even surged ahead 22-21.
But the Lancers were not to be denied. Ross evened the score with a kill, and Anna Ballengee and Sahara Bee also had kills. Grace ended the set by winning the final four points to claim the 25-22 victory.
In the second set, Grace gained an early lead again. Grace’s advantage was small for most of the set as the team clung to a 21-20 edge.
But Katie Swanson had a thunderous kill to give Grace a boost. Ross added yet another ace soon after, and the set ended with Bee and Tate teaming up for a strong defensive play to win the set 25-20.
The Pilots took a turn leading at the onset of the third set with a 7-2 advantage. But Grace quickly erased the deficit with a 5-0 run, sparked by a kill and block from Swanson.
The score remained close for the middle portions of the set, but Grace took control late. Bee was electric down the stretch, using a variety of attacks to produce four late kills to propel the Lancers in front. Ballengee and Alisha Leffring tag-teamed for a block on the final point as Grace won 25-20 to wrap up the sweep.
Bee led the team with 10 kills on 16 swings (.500 percentage), adding two solo blocks and a block assist.
Swanson and Ross tallied seven kills with Ross serving up seven aces as well.
Riley Owens finished with 20 assists, 5 digs and 3 kills in a memorable night. The junior also eclipsed 1,000 career digs in Grace’s win.
Morgan Syoen ended with 12 assists and six digs, Leffring had six kills and two block assists, and Tate had five kills.
The win is Grace’s first over a ranked opponent since 2021 (Sept. 3, 3-0 vs No. 24 Cornerstone).
The Lancers end the week with two home matches, beginning Friday against Taylor (who is receiving votes in the NAIA poll) at 7 p.m. Grace will then host St. Francis on Saturday at 3 p.m.