SMC opens Western Conference play with five-set win over Vikings

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

CENTREVILLE — Shaking off the rust of a 10-day layoff, visiting Southwestern Michigan College defeated Glen Oaks Community College in five sets to kickoff its Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference schedule with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.

The Roadrunners last played Aug. 26 when it defeated the same Vikings in their home opener at the 1st Source Bank Field house 3-1 in a non-conference match. Glen Oaks also won the opening set in that match as well before Southwestern Michigan swept the final three sets for the win.

The Vikings put up an even fiercer battle Tuesday night, as after winning the first set 25-23 and falling in the second set to SMC, 25-21, they rebounded to win the third set 25-21.

Southwestern Michigan rallied once again as it won the fourth set 25-22 to set up a winner-take-all showdown in the fifth set.

The Roadrunners dominated the final set, winning 15-6 to earn the victory in their conference opener.

“We knew it was going to be a tough match tonight, and we prepared in practice to stay aggressive, play to win, spread out our scoring on the net, and really use our block to slow down a couple of their power hitters,” said SMC Coach Jenny Nate. “We have been working hard in practice to win the fifth set, so when it came time to play that final set, the team did a great job executing and controlling the runs, energy, and stamina to finish with the 15-6 final score.”

Nate said that matches like these will pay dividends down the road as Southwestern Michigan attempts to improve on last season’s success.

“Wins like these take a lot of grit, compare, and teamwork, and the players off the court were as loud as the players on the court, and that’s what it’s takes to finish these tight matches — total team effort,” she said. “I’m so proud of this team. Now, we get back to work tomorrow and prepare for Ancilla [College] on Thursday.”

With the win, the Roadrunners improve to 10-3 on the season and are 1-0 in the Western Conference heading into their match with the Chargers.

Sophomore Nikki Nate (Niles) had a big night at the net with a team-high 21 kills. She also had 19 digs, six blocks and an ace. Sophomore Brianca Hobson (Kalamazoo/Loy Norrix) turned in a solid all-around match with nine kills, 12 points, six digs, two blocks and four aces.

Buchanan freshman Josie West added seven kills, 16 points and 17 digs, while sophomore Emma Beckman (Niles) finished the match with 22 assists, nine points, seven digs, six kills, two blocks and two aces.