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College Volleyball NAIA WHAC

Early Bird Challenge Day Two

By Seth J. Walker

Dearborn, Michigan- The second and final day of the Early Bid Challenged played out Saturday morning and afternoon at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.  The host Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines lost both of their matches to finish 1-3 in the tournament.  The Madonna Crusaders won both of their matches to go 4-0 in their run. The Lawrence Tech Blue Devils split their two matches to complete the tournament at 3-1.

Click here for a summary of day one.


The Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines lost to Spring Arbor in their first match in three sets (21-25, 25-27, 17-25).  Senior opposite side hitter, Erin Perinello led the Wolverines with nine kills.

Despite putting up a great effort in their second match, the Wolverines lost to Mt. Vernon Nazarene, 25-27, 19-25, 25-22, 22-25.  Sophomore outside hitter, Gina Giacomini led the team with 16 kills, while freshman middle blocker, Mackenzie Fuleky had 11.  Junior setter, Daniella Barile recorded a team-high 35 assist along with 11 digs.  Senior libero, Caitlyn Carlson led the Wolverines with 20 digs.

Gina Giacomini (2) led the Wolverines with 16 kills against Mt. Vernon Nazarene.


The Madonna Crusaders won their first match over Goshen in five sets (25-18, 24-26, 25-12, 22-25, 18-16).  Senior outside hitter, Taylor Suurmeyer picked up where she left off the day before with a team-high 16 kills.  Sophomore outside hitter, Jodie Kelly had 15 kills and 19 digs.  Senior setter, Lauren Korth had a volleyball triple-double with 12 kills, 38 assists, and 12 digs.  Sophomore middle hitter, Nyla Greer and junior middle hitter, Erica LaBaere each had 10 kills.

Taylor Suurmeyer (15), Erica LaBaere (13), and Lauren Korth discuss strategy before the next serve.

Kelly has managed to step right in and pick up right where her older sister, Karlie left off last season before graduate as one of the top players in program history.  After spending last year as a freshman rooming with and learning from Karlie, the younger Kelly has taken it upon herself now to continue the family legacy, even taking jersey number five, which her sister wore.

“Coming into this year, it’s really given me a lot of confidence to know that I can step in, be her role and lead by example for the underclassmen the way she did for me, my first year,” Kelly said.  “It’s exciting; nerve racking, but I think I’m ready for it.”

In their second match, the Crusaders swept Point Park, 25-20, 25-13, 25-22.  This time, the Crusaders had a more balanced attack, with Korth leading the team in both kills and assist, with eight and 17 respectively, while playing in a two-setter system with freshman, Jordyn Dawson, who had 16 assists.

Lawrence Tech

The Lawrence Tech Blue Devils remained undefeated after beating Mt. Vernon Nazarene (25-21, 25-21, 25-23).  Junior middle hitter, Zakia Hunt led the Blue Devils with 15 kills while senior middle hitter, Dacey Cook, added 12.  Senior libero, Lexi Szymoniak recorded a team-high 19 digs.

Kristi Doherty (4) and Alexis Snider, both setters, prepare for the next play.

Unfortunately, the Blue Devils then lost to Spring Arbor, (25-18, 21-25, 18-25, 23-25).  Junior opposite side hitter, Varvara Gromakova, and Hunt, led the team with 14 and 11 kills, respectively.  Szymoniak led the Blue Devils defensively with 25 digs while sophomore outside hitters Jess Lodge and Isabella McDonald added 13 and 10, respectively.

Varvara, who hails from Moscow, Russia, is off to a great start so far this season, averaging three kills per set, which only trails Hunt’s 3.6 on the team.

“Our Russian Right Side, basically, is doing a great job,” Blue Devils head coach, Ed Ruhl said.  “She has one of the few kills shots in college, specifically, and she can do it over and over and over again.  We just have to get to the point of using her in the right situations.  That’s going to be the key, but she’s going to be a leader for us.”



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