ALLENDALE- Grand Valley Fieldhouse Arena: Two titans of dodgeball proved they belong among the Nation’s best as they played out one of the best games of all time. The #6 Lakers (4-1-0), led by Captain Mark Trippiedi, won a wild affair 3-2 in overtime over #3 Michigan State (7-2-1), led by Captain Sam Hiller.
GVSU jumped out to an early lead, taking out the sluggish Spartans quickly, but MSU was able to counter that with a long, but decisive, victory in the second point as they had only a few players in the out line. This led to a 1-1 game going into the break, where both teams made some adjustments. State took the second half’s first point, to get only their second lead on GVSU in program history, but it may have been too quick, as they left far too much time on the clock for Grand Valley to take the fourth point. With the score tied at 2-2 with under seven minutes to play, MSU played for overtime and held off the Lakers.
The six Spartans chosen were Alex Acton (#72), Eric Paul (#9), Mike Van Ermen (#6), Andy Lieblich (#20), and two Michigan State players playing their final game: #24 Andrew Koczara and #21 Chris Kramer. Grand Valley chose captains Mark Trippiedi (#8), Dylan Fettig (#24), and Kenny Bacchus (#32), along with Josh Stevenson (#13, also playing his final game), Kevin Bailey (#4), and Ryan Knight (#11). Both sides got a quick kill, but Acton caught Trippiedi to give MSU a 6-4 advantage. The Lakers fought back however, and it was eventually a 3-3 tie. This quickly became a 2-1 man advantage for MSU, but the game was far from over. Within a span of about a minute Bailey caught Kramer with a spectacular catch, bringing in Knight, who was immediately caught by Paul, who was then hit by Bailey, leading to a one vs one of Bailey vs Acton: two do-it-all All Stars for their teams. They both threw at the same time, and both throws hit- but as the ball that hit Bailey soared into the air, the ball that hit Acton went straight down, ending the game for a Laker victory.
It was a hard fought game, and without a doubt the best MSU performance ever against Grand Valley, and perhaps ever. Both sides were evenly matched (GVSU was down three varsity players, MSU four) and both sides clearly wanted the win desperately. This rivalry will have at least two more matches this year- one, announced yesterday, at the Chicago Dodgeball Open, and one at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, but don’t be surprised if they meet at Nationals as well.