Lady Lancers win two five-setters

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grace’s volleyball team picked up a pair of victories at the Cornerstone Classic on Friday.

The Lady Lancers played back-to-back matches on Friday, beating IU South Bend and the host Cornerstone in two 3-2 victories. Grace has now won four straight matches and is 9-2 over its past 11 contests.

“Our personnel continues to be adaptable and respond well to in-game adjustments,” said Grace head coach Katie Van Hofwegen. “Every game, someone new steps up. It’s been so fun to see how we continue to improve as a team.”

In the opening match, Grace’s offense powered the Lady Lancers (13-11) to a five-set victory. Grace had 65 kills compared to 51 for the Titans.

Alexa Hill racked up 57 assists, three off a career high. She directed three players to double-digit kills, led by 18 kills from Corynne Aelker, 17 from Gabbey Harrington and 15 from Katie Swanson.

The Titans (12-9) claimed the opening set 25-19, but Grace was swift in response. The Lady Lancers won the next two games 25-23 and 25-20 to go ahead.

Grace had its worst offensive set in the fourth game, however, allowing IUSB to win 25-20 and force a tiebreaker.

A pair of small runs gave Grace an 8-3 edge in the fifth set. Makaela Lochmueller had a kill and two blocks on three straight plays to spark Grace’s cushion. Aelker then pounded out three consecutive kills, and Grace cruised to a 15-9 victory. Harrington and Lochmueller had kills on the final two plays of the mach.

Aelker’s 18 kills came with five digs and three block assists, and Harrington’s 17 kills came on a .424 percentage.

Gina Novotny was an anchor on the back row, producing 33 digs which was one off her career best. Lochmueller had nine kills and four block assists, Emily Sharp had two aces and 14 digs, and Hill finished with a double-double of 57 assists and 17 digs.

In Friday’s final match, Grace spoiled Cornerstone’s home tourney with a win. The teams split the first two sets; Grace won the opener by six, and the Golden Eagles (10-10) answered with a nine-point win to tie the match.

The sides could barely be separated in the third set with the score tied at 19, 20, 21 and 22 apiece. At 22-22, Grace turned to Harrington for a kill to take the lead, and Makayla Bell clinched the game with back-to-back kills for a 25-22 win.

Cornerstone stayed alive with a 25-17 victory in the fourth, sending the Lady Lancers to their second five-setter of the night.

Early into the fifth set, Grace used a 5-2 spurt to gain separation thanks to back-to-back kills from Deborah Michalski. Not long after, Bell picked up three kills and a block over the final six plays to secure the victory 15-9.

Michalski and Harrington each had 12 kills to lead the Lady Lancers, and Bell had 10 kills and three block assists.

Lochmueller finished with eight kills and five block assists, Hill had 44 assists and 20 digs, and Novotny and Sharp each added 19 digs.

The Lady Lancers end the tournament on Saturday, playing Trinity Christian and Carroll in the afternoon.