Grace spikers upset No. 22 Lourdes

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – At the 2017 Lancer Classic, Grace’s volleyball team took down No. 22 Lourdes 3-1 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Grace split two matches on Friday, both against teams appearing in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. In the nightcap the Lady Lancers fell to IU Kokomo, a team who is receiving votes in the national poll.

In the opener, Sierra Smith powered Grace to an upset of No. 22 Lourdes. Smith pounded out 21 kills on a .405 percentage.

Grace won both of the first games against Lourdes by a 25-18 scoreline. The Lady Lancers (4-2) hit over .260 as a team in both sets.

The Gray Wolves (0-1) picked up momentum with a third-set win at 25-19 and were poised to force a fifth set.

In the fourth game, Grace fell behind 6-1 early. The Lady Lancers slowly clawed back into the game but still trailed 23-17.

Grace made a push at that point, however. Alexa Hill served brilliantly, leading Grace to seven straight points and a 24-23 advantage. Smith and Kelsee Zuidema had timely kills as well during that surge.

Lourdes rallied back to force extra points, and the teams tied the score at 24, 25 and 26. Grace eventually won the set and the match at 28-26, ending on Smith’s 21st kill of the contest.

Hill passed out 45 assists to go along with 12 digs, Sara Miller racked up a match-high 24 digs, and Zuidema had 12 kills, 4 aces and 11 digs.

Kari Feddema and Tori Bontrager were dominant at the net. Feddema had 8 kills, 2 solo blocks and 2 block assists, and Bontrager ended with 8 kills, 1 solo block and 5 block assists.

Against IU Kokomo, Grace’s offense struggled to get in sync. The Lady Lancers lost the first two sets 25-15 and 25-21; Grace had 18 combined hitting errors in the two losses.

The Lady Lancers, in front of an energetic crowd, began to get their footing the longer the match progressed. Grace hammered out 17 kills in the third set en route to a 25-21 victory.

The fourth set held promise as Grace owned a slight lead in the later stages. But the Cougars (4-3) made key plays at the end, pulling away for a decisive 25-23 win.

Hill had another 45-assist performance to go along with 11 digs, and Zuidema led all players with 18 kills while adding 10 digs.

Miller produced 20 digs, Caylie Teel added 15, and Gina Novotny tallied nine defensively. Feddema was efficient with 10 kills on a .348 percentage.

The Lady Lancers conclude the Lancer Classic on Saturday, playing Northwestern Ohio at 9 a.m. and Indiana Tech at 3 p.m.