The Northwood University volleyball team claimed the GLIAC Tournament Championship Sunday afternoon (November 18) with a 3-1 victory over Grand Valley State. Set scores were 24-26, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22.
Northwood is now 26-6 overall. GVSU stands at 25-7 on the season.
The Timberwolves will find out later tonight if they will host the upcoming NCAA Regional Championship. Northwood entered the week ranked second in the Midwest Region, but top-ranked Indianapolis lost in the GLVC Tournament Semifinals.
GVSU was the better team in a tight opening set, earning a 1-0 lead. The set featured 17 ties and five lead changes. Neither team led by more than two points the entire set. GVSU hit .222 (16-6-45) while holding Northwood to a .125 clip (10-5-40).
The end of the second set may have been the key to the entire match. Grand Valley State led 21-18, nearing a 2-0 lead. But the Timberwolves fought back, scoring six straight points, which featured two Northwood blocks and three kills by Juliia Pakhomenko (Donetsk, Ukraine). Her final kill gave Northwood the set 25-23 and evened the score 1-1.
The third set was all Northwood from the start. The Timberwolves scored seven of the first eight points and eventually led 16-4. The Lakers got no closer than seven points after NU's hot start. GVSU hit -.032 (6-7-31) in the set, compared to .229 for Northwood (14-6-35).
In the fourth set, both defenses played at a high level. NU hit .146 (15-9-41), while Grand Valley State finished at .000 (8-8-42). The Timberwolves led in the middle portion of the set, but GVSU fought back to take a 21-20 lead late. But as has been the case for the entire GLIAC Tournament, Northwood saved its best volleyball for the final moments of a set. NU scored five of the final six points, capped by a kill from Pakhomenko to give Northwood the title.
For the match, Northwood hit .174 (51-24-155) while holding the Lakers to a .082 mark (42-29-159). Northwood finished with an 80-71 advantage in digs and an 11-10 edge in blocks.
Regular season Player of the Year Pakhomenko was also named the Tournament MVP. She finished the final with 24 kills, two aces, eight digs and four blocks. Tatjana Rajic (Belgrade, Serbia) added 10 kills and three blocks, while Kristin Perschon (Schaumberg, Ill.) had eight kills and eight blocks while hitting .444 (8-0-18). Jordan Dunn (Bowling Green, Ohio) finished with 45 assists to go with 13 digs.
Pakhomenko was joined on the All-Tournament team by fellow Timberwolves Perschon and Dunn.
GLIAC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM:
TOURNAMENT MVP: Juliia Pakhomenko, Northwood
Jordan Dunn, Northwood
Kristin Perschon, Northwood
Betsy Ronda, Grand Valley State
Clair Ruhenkamp, Grand Valley State
Kate Eckels, Ashland
Kristen Bulkiewicz, Wayne State