ALLENDALE- Grand Valley State University played host to three Michigan schools for the 2016 Grand Valley Gauntlet. In attendance were Central Michigan, Michigan State, and Saginaw Valley State. The scores from the gauntlet are listed below along with a brief recap of each:
MSU def. SVSU 3-1
The first varsity match of the day had the potential to be a close game, but that ended up not being the case. Michigan State jumped out to a strong lead in the first half and coasted to victory. SVSU’s one point came late in the ball game when the result of the game had already been all but decided. Alex Zajac was a standout player for MSU with a self-proclaimed ESPN Top-10 fingertip catch in the second half of this one.
GVSU def. CMU 2-0
Grand Valley State playing Central Michigan has been a rivalry filled with close games, and today continued that trend. The first point of the game lasted 23 minutes with GVSU Sophomore Aaron Krafft taking over late in the point with a number of clutch catches and thrown outs.
The first point of the second half would determine everything. Either GVSU takes a 2-0 lead, or CMU ties it up and grabs the momentum heading into overtime. GVSU veteran Aaron Terenzi made a number of big catches in the second half as GVSU survived a long and close point to take the 2-0 lead. No one scored a point in the final minutes, so the Lakers were victorious.
MSU def. CMU 2-1 (OT)
I think there is no argument here. The game of the day was CMU vs. MSU. Central Michigan looked dominant to start the game with a fairly routine point of MSU. Following that point, the Chips continued to roll as they had a huge man advantage in point #2. MSU was able to reach halftime with one player (Wes Peters) left on the court, as they preserved the 1 point deficit.
The second half was a completely different story. A long drawn out point ended with MSU tying it up with 7 minutes to play. Neither team could generate enough offense in the final minutes so it was time for OT.
The overtime period between MSU and CMU was back and forth dodgeball at its finest. It ended up coming down to a 1 on 1 between a couple star players. CMU’s Mike Riley against MSU’s Wes Peters. After trading throws back and forth, CMU was charged with a balls over call, giving Peters a prime opportunity to seal the victory. On his following the stoppage, Peters placed his first throw low and to the left of Riley, hitting him in the hand to end the game with a 2-1 overtime victory for the Spartans.
GVSU def. SVSU 4-1
The final varsity match of the day was a pretty lopsided one as a worn out SVSU team struggled to keep pace with a more talented and experienced GVSU squad. Grand Valley made quick work of the Cardinals in the first half, gaining a 3-0 lead by halftime. SVSU was able to earn a point in the second half to finish the game 4-1. That second half success may help Saginaw build momentum going forward.
It is pretty clear what the power rankings should look like in the Michigan Region following the Gauntlet. GVSU is on a 5-game win streak with at least one shutout win against each of the other Michigan schools in the 5-game stretch. Michigan State is back on a roll, with only one Michigan Region loss on the year (GVSU) along with their loss to Kentucky. Central Michigan has struggled overall this year, but they hold the edge over SVSU thanks to the overtime victory from two weeks ago. Right now the Michigan Region looks like this:
I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but there is certainly potential for this to change. Central Michigan has had some very close losses this year, and we all know Saginaw improves in the second half of the year just as good as anyone in the league. Michigan State will benefit from the return of Colin O’Brien in the spring, while GVSU will lose a few impact players in the spring semester.
The big winners at the Gauntlet were GVSU and MSU. GVSU looks like the real deal once again, while MSU was able to get back on track with a few victories.
Saginaw and Central may be the “losers” after this weekend, but I can’t stress enough that these two teams have the talent and leadership to be right in the thick of the national title race later this year.