The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team won its third five-set match of the NJCAA Division II National Championship tournament to finish in fifth place.
GRCC entered the tournament as the No. 9 seed, and faced higher-ranked teams in every match. GRCC defeated the No. 8 and No. 4 teams, and faced the Cowley College, the No. 3 seed, on Saturday. The team’s only loss was to Johnson County Community College, the top-ranked team in the tournament.
GRCC’s fifth-place finish at the national tournament tied for the second-best in the program’s history. GRCC won the national championship in 2012, and earned a fifth-place finish in 2019.
Audrey Torres, GRCC’s No. 1 attacker all season, shined in the Raiders’ final match, which the team won 13-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-25, 15-12. Torres had a career-high 28 kills, including the match winner, and hit .403 with just three attack errors.
Torres, who was named to the All-Tournament Team after the match, said she is “super proud” of how the team performed.
“We were able to pull off two upsets that many people probably didn’t think we could pull off,” she said. “We were gritty and resilient the whole weekend, never taking a minute to relax while we played, and pushed through the toughest situations to finish as a top-five team in the country.
“I couldn’t be more proud of everyone. Each person showed up and performed at her best and it paid off. As for my performance, I’m pretty proud of myself and the milestone I reached. However, my success wouldn’t have been possible if our defense didn’t show up. I have them to thank for my success today. I love this team.”
Audrey Gower also finished out her GRCC career on a great note, with 22 digs, four aces, four assists and zero reception errors.
Kara Hecht had a strong showing in her final match, with 14 kills and eight digs. Shannon Russell finished off her career with 36 assists and 15 digs.
The team finished the match with a .231 hitting performance including a .480 performance in the final set on 12 kills.
“It’s hard to put in to words what a magical season this was,” head coach Chip Will said. “A totally new division in our conference with travel all up north. Winning the conference, state and regional title. Biking around Mackinac Island, enjoying the water park at Soaring Eagle, countless dad jokes, smiles, hugs, tears, and a complete love for playing for Raider Nation volleyball. We had so many teams cheering for us in the final match, tons of fans watching from home, we could feel the love from all of you. Proud coach because today our kids left as better volleyball players, better teammates, better human beings and I’m so glad I could go on this journey with all of them.”
The win gives GRCC a 27-4 record in a season that included an 18-match win streak. The team competed in a new Michigan Community College Athletic Association Northern Conference, which required travel to the Upper Peninsula.
The team celebrated its 11th conference championship, ninth Michigan Community College Athletic Association championship and 11th district championship this year.