Zuidema tops 1,000 kills at Lancer Classic

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace senior Kelsee Zuidema recorded her 1,000th career kill on Friday at the annual Lancer Classic.

The Lady Lancers split the opening day of the Lancer Classic, sweeping Lindenwold-Belleville and falling to IU Kokomo in a dramatic five-setter.

Zuidema became the 10th player in program history to record 1,000 kills in a Lady Lancer uniform, earning the feat in the nightcap against IU Kokomo.

In the opening match of the tournament, Grace had little trouble ousting Lindenwood-Belleville. The Lady Lancers won each of the first two sets by 25-17. Grace cruised in the third game with a dominant 25-15 win.

Kelsee Zuidema had an impressive outing, racking up 14 kills on a .480 percentage; she had seven kills in the first set alone.

Caylie Teel produced another double-double—her fourth of the season—with 12 kills and 14 digs to go along with three block assists. Alexa Hill passed out 34 assists and eight digs, Gina Novotny dug up 10 balls, Caroline Mayer had seven digs, and Makaela Lochmueller added six kills and two block assists.

The final match of the day was a battle with IU Kokomo, a perennial NAIA national qualifier. The Cougars impressed in the opening set with a nine-point win as Grace struggled to slow down IUK’s attack.

The second set was tightly contested. But the Cougars pulled away late by winning five of the final six points in a 25-19 victory.

IU Kokomo seemed well on its way to a three-set victory, taking a commanding 13-5 lead in the third set. But Grace went on a game-changing 11-2 run at that point to pull back in front 16-15.

Zuidema was unstoppable during Grace’s run, accounting for six points by herself with five kills and an ace. Kelsey Smith added a pair of blocks during that spurt, and Emily Sharp and Hill also aced.

Grace managed to eke out a 25-23 win to stay alive and keep a rambunctious crowd on its feet.

Momentum remained on Grace’s side in the fourth set. The Cougars seemed shell-shocked and were blown out 25-11 to set up a decisive fifth game.

The Cougars recovered in the tiebreaker and scored the first three points. The teams played evenly for the remainder of the set, but IU Kokomo’s early lead was enough in a 15-12 victory.

Zuidema had 19 kills on a .354 percentage to go along with six digs and two aces. Hill tallied 50 assists, her sixth time hitting that milestone in her career, to go along with 18 digs.

Teel amassed 20 digs and nine kills, and Lexy Oppenhuis produced 17 kills and three block assists.

Novotny (17 digs) and Mayer (14 digs) were strong in defense, and Smith added 5 kills, 1 solo block and 4 block assists.

The Lady Lancers will end their home tournament on Saturday with an 11 a.m. match against St. Ambrose and a 3 p.m. match against IU East.