Learning Curve Continues for Volleyball

Learning Curve Continues for Volleyball
Tania Torres had 12 kills in the loss to Grand Valley State. Photo by Jim McCurdy

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Learning curves have slippery slopes sometimes. Barry learned the hard way Friday night.

The Buccaneers lost to host Grand Valley State in the featured match of the Grand Rapids Classic, 25-12, 28-26, 25-20, closing a day that started out with so much sunshine on a little bit of cloudy note. But these volleyball danes have fortitude, as evidenced by a second set that could have swung the tide of the match in a direction the Lakers wouldn't have wanted to explore. So to expect Barry (3-3) to throw in the towel just isn't part of its vernacular.

Not when the two sides duked it out through 31 tie scores and 19 lead changes, including 13 in the second set.

"I think this game showed the difference of a team that's still trying to find a rhythm," senior hitter Tania Torres said after pounding 12 of her team's 36 kills. "We're learning what it takes to be up there. At least mentally."

Barry responded from an opening set it will soon forget with a gritty fight in the second, pushing Grand Valley (5-1) through a point-by-point see-saw battle. GVSU led 14-12 before Mima Hajdukovic's kill lifted the Bucs to a 16-15 lead. Following three straight sideouts, the Lakers reclaimed the lead, 18-17. But Torres' kill tied it at 18-18. 

Point-by-point the trend continued until Jayla Trombley put away a ball to push the Bucs ahead, 24-23. Grand Valley claimed the next two points before Torres pounded a clutch kill to tie the score at 25-25. A Lakers attack error left the Bucs a point away from knotting the match at a set apiece, but a Barry hitting error and two straight GVSU kills kept the momentum in the Lakers' corner.

"As a team, there are a lot of people learning from the seniors," Torres said. "I think we definitely showed we have the skills, and we can put together a great team if we just focus on the positives and not the negatives. Even though we lost, it's not a bad loss. We're just gonna go up from here."

Barry led 12-7 in the third set after Mariana Lisboa sent a back row ball to uninhabited real estate. But the Lakers went on a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead. Following a series of sideouts, GVSU used a four-point surge to take a 20-15 edge before Buccaneer freshman Kate Dooley's kill temporarily stopped the bleeding. The Bucs energy was short-lived, however, as Grand Valley sandwiched three of the next four points around one of Torres' final two kills of the match to essentially seal it.

Barry, which hit .157, terminating 36 kills against 19 errors, was outblocked, 7-4. The Bucs also didn't serve up an ace -- something they've shown great propensity to do thusfar this season.

Ashley Carrero had seven kills and nine digs, Cielena six kills and three blocks, and Trombley six kills. Hajdukovic had 28 assists and 11 digs.

Abby Aiken had 13 kills and Betsy Ronda 10 for the Lakers, who hit .255.

"I think it's gonna be a great day tomorrow," Torres said. "We're gonna bounce back. We're just going to take advantage of everything we had. I think tomorrow's gonna be a different situation."