GRCC volleyball looks ahead to fall season, aims to continue successful run

The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team is looking to return to nationals for the 12th time in the history of the program with a mix of honored sophomores and incoming freshmen.

GRCC last season finished runner-up in regionals after winning its 10th conference championship and eighth Michigan Community College Athletic Association title.

“I’m very confident that this year’s team has what it takes to contend for another regional championship and get back to nationals,” Coach Chip Will said. “We should have strong leadership from our nine sophomores and a great incoming class and I’m very excited to get the season underway.”  

Will celebrated his 400th career win last season.

Nice players are returning, including outside hitter Audrey Torres, who earned All-Region, First Team All-Conference honors; setter Shannon Russell, who earned Second Team All-Conference honors; and Kara Hecht, Karissa Ferry and Eliza Thelen who were all named All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Also returning is Alena Visnovsky, recently named to the NJCAA All-Academic team for a perfect 4.0 GPA; Rylee VanPatten, and outside hitter from Charlotte; and Audrey Gower, a defensive specialist/libero from Dimondale.

The team has three incoming freshmen. Outside hitter/defensive specialist Braelyn Berry graduated from Morley Stanwood High School and was named Female Athlete of the Year.

Defensive specialist Lexi Heavner went to Rockford High School, and defensive specialist Vienna Koenigsknecht comes from Portage Central High School.

GRCC lost All-American middle hitter Annie Holesinger, now playing at Lander University in South Carolina, and Ola Nowak, now at Davenport University.

The 2022 season will include new competitors and a celebration of the 2012 National Championship team at Homecoming.

The team kicks off its season with a scrimmage at Ferris State University on Aug. 11 in Big Rapids followed by two more scrimmages on Aug. 12 and Aug. 16 at GRCC.

The regular season begins on Aug. 19 as the Raiders travel to Rockford, Ill. for the McHenry County College Invitational. The team will face stiff competition including Iowa Central Community College and Johnson County Community College, which finished third and fourth in the NJCAA National Tournament last year.

A week later, GRCC travels to Owens Community College for three more matches, playing Terra State Community College, which finished in sixth at nationals and the host team, which won the NJCAA Division III National Championship.

Conference season begins on Sept. 16 at Bay College in Escanaba.  With the addition of Bay, North Central College and Delta College, the MCCAA realigned the conference and GRCC and Muskegon Community College will play in the North Division. 

This year’s Raider Challenge is scheduled to take place Oct. 1 and 2 at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse on the campus of GRCC.

The Oct. 7 match against North Central Community College will be Homecoming, with the 2012 National Champions invited.

Postseason play begins Oct. 29 and this year’s National Tournament is Nov. 17-19 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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