Grace spikers win five-set thriller
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The fourth straight victory for Grace’s volleyball team was anything but easy.
The Lady Lancers held off a feisty Spring Arbor squad 3-2 on Friday in front of a boisterous crowd at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.
Corynne Aelker enjoyed the best game of her freshman campaign. Aelker was dominant in attack, racking up 20 kills at a .310 percentage to go along with four block assists.
Grace was sloppy to start the match, slipping behind 5-1. But the Lady Lancers (8-9, 4-2 Crossroads League) calmly responded and soon after were in control.
Aelker was electric in the first set, accounting for seven kills. Her sixth kill of the set put Grace ahead 24-18. Her seventh kill clinched the set 25-20.
The second set was hotly contested. Grace pulled ahead slightly 17-13 after a pair of kills from Katie Swanson, but the Cougars (4-7, 0-6 CL) answered with seven straight points.
Grace managed to recover thanks to a 7-2 run to take a 24-23 lead. But SAU stole the set by winning three unanswered points.
The Lady Lancers responded with their most dominant set. Grace won 25-16 after picking up seven more kills (15 to 8) in the game.
SAU stayed alive by winning the fourth set. The Cougars used a 7-1 spurt to gain separation, winning the set by six.
The fifth set was a roller coaster of emotion; neither team led by more than two points for the duration. Grace surged ahead 11-9, but SAU countered with three hard-earned points to go ahead and force a timeout by Grace.
After the timeout, Makayla Bell pounded out back-to-back kills to keep the MOCC crowd in a frenzy. SAU scored on the next rally to tie the game at 13-13.
Grace then scored the next two points — thanks to a SAU service error and a kill from Makaela Lochmueller — to win the match and send the crowd into bedlam.
Swanson had 12 kills to continue her strong play, and Bell had 8 kills, 8 digs, 2 aces and 2 block assists.
Alexa Hill filled the stat sheet with 47 assists, 6 digs, 4 kills and 1 ace, Emily Sharp and Caroline Mayer each tallied 13 digs, and Gina Novotny added 12 digs.
The Lady Lancers are back home on Saturday, hosting St. Francis at 3 p.m. at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.