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GRCC volleyball tops Illinois Central in five-set thriller, then falls to Johnson County in national tournament

Nov. 17, 2022, CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team topped Illinois Central College in a five-set thriller before falling in the quarter-final round to top-seeded Johnson County Community College in straight sets at the NJCAA Division II National Championship on Thursday.

GRCC, the No. 9 seed in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, lost its shot at a national championship, but still has a chance to finish in the top five in the country if it wins its final two matches.

"I was very proud about how the kids battled all day, especially in the final match against a really good Johnson County team," head coach Chip Will said. "They never gave up."

GRCC dominated sets one and three against Illinois Central, winning 25-14 and 25-16, but dropped sets two and four 22-25 and 23-25 to force the final set, which the Raiders won 15-8.

Eliza Thelen led GRCC with 16 points, on 10 kills and six blocks. Audrey Torres led the team with 12 kills and Karissa Ferry added eight kills and three blocks.

Five different players tallied at least 10 digs, with librero Audrey Gower leading the way with 17.

GRCC had 13 total service aces, led by freshman Vienna Koenigsknecht with a career-high six.

In the quarterfinal match against Johnson County Community College, the Cavaliers cruised to a 25-12, 25-12, 25-16 victory to advance to the semi-finals.

Thelen and Ferry led GRCC with eight kills and Torres added four kills.

GRCC, 25-4 overall, continues play Friday in the consolation round against Iowa Central Community College at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. Should the Raiders win, the team will have a chance to play for fifth place on Saturday.