Before getting into Coach Fettig’s recap, here are the results from the Grand Valley Gauntlet:
GVSU def SVSU 3-1
JMU def MSU 4-2
GVSU def JMU 5-0
CMU def BGSU 3-1
MSU def CMU 4-3
SVSU def BGSU 4-2
GVSU def MSU – 4-1
JMU def SVSU 4-2
GVSU def BGSU 5-2
JMU def CMU 4-1
the following recap was written by gvsu coach dylan fettig:
I am very impressed with this team’s progress from the first time I saw them this year. They have some first-year players doing big things already for them. Jack Hilt was making a lot of throws for them and once he gets his aim down he will be a scary man to go up against. Hunter Broski was another new guy that balled out for MSU. He consistently got them out of tough situations with his catching, most notably in their game against CMU when he was the last man standing. Payton Schuster and Rebecca Shappell both had great days as well. In their game against JMU several points came down to the two of them against several JMU players. They both stayed focused and kept their team in the game by making smart play after smart play. I expect MSU to take big steps next semester once they have some more experience under their belts.
CMU was a mixed bag this weekend. Their top guys (Austin Brege, Casey Bielec, Kyle “The Gun” Garner, and Eric Nelson) all had good days but teams quickly found out that this team is much easier to handle once those players are all in the out line. At times these guys seemed to be trying to do too much and ended up putting themselves in bad situations. They will become a much better team once the younger guys can confidently make throws and take some of the burden off the older guys. A couple of their young guys that caught my eye were Jared Brown and Jaylen Stafford. Brown looked like he will be a good all-around player in the near future. He was making a lot of accurate throws for the Chips while also effectively pressuring the opposing teams and looking to make some catches as well. Stafford was a bench player for CMU last year, but that won’t be the case this year as he was making some big time catches. The things I would like to see from these guys the most is to work on their communication and overall gusto. It was very odd seeing a quiet and almost timid CMU team when they have always been loud and proud. There was a huge moment at the end of a point in their game versus MSU where Schuster got caught in for MSU and then immediately threw a catch to a CMU freshman and not a single person on CMU’s team was excited about it!
SVSU finished the day with only one win but I will go on record saying that they would have beaten the other two Michigan teams that they didn’t get to play (MSU & CMU). SV has the experience, they have the talent, all they need to do is smooth out some wrinkles and they will be a top tier team. Before we go any further go to 20:05 of this video and look at Kyle Bruce’s blocking skills. My video was very low quality for some reason but you can see the man block a ball in front to his left then see another coming fast to his right side and SPIN to perfectly block it away, it was actually ridiculous! SV plays on another level when they are excited and I only got to see that in their game versus BGSU. It was actually kind of funny, mid game Kenny Mize was up on their throw line just pointing at BG players and saying “him” then his team would throw 2 or 3 balls to get that player out and Mize would point to his next victim. If they can keep their hype up and stay focused in tougher matches I believe this team will be a force to reckon with in the future.
GV came into the tournament knowing that losing any of their games would result in a top 10 upset of the Gonzales ranking system and they weren’t interested in giving that up on their home court. They didn’t play any games for over a month but have been working hard in practice and it showed in the games. This team’s catching ability is top notch and it was on full display Saturday. Ben Smart had well over double digit catches on the day and first year player Luke Holicky brought in several as well. Josh Hill and Nolan Stanko were disrupting the opponents offenses by running down players as soon as they came up and made a throw. Brandon Meisel needs a haircut, but besides that his team is in great form already headed towards the halfway point of the season.
JMU came into the tournament with a tall task ahead of them, which was to play 4 Michigan teams within 5 rounds of games. I would say their trip to Allendale was successful as they notched wins against everyone but the hosts. Their match versus MSU may have been the most exciting of the day as every point seemed liked it could go either way. Their catching skills ended up being too dominant for the out of town Michigan teams to handle as Jonathan Smith, among others, was catching everything thrown at him. Captain Evan Eschenburg made some great throws and was able to manage his team well to keep them all healthy and focused for all 4 games. Their game against GV probably would have been more interesting if the Dukes had not just finished a close match against MSU and if they didn’t know that they still had two more tough games ahead of themselves. They appear to have a better idea on how to control the game this year and if they keep improving on that aspect they could easily find themselves in the National Championship Game in April.
Bowling Green graduated some big names last year and are still working on filling those gaps. They still have a solid core of players and will improve drastically by next semester once they get another few games under their belts. Max Kowalski has a frightening arm and backs it up with a knack for making clutch catches. His team will need to figure out how to protect him better if they want to start getting more checks in the win column.