Lawrence Tech volleyball playing as one of the nation’s top teams

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published October 31, 2019

 Lawrence Tech University’s Jessica Lodge prepares to serve the ball against Rochester University Oct. 30. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 23 in the latest coaches poll.

Lawrence Tech University’s Jessica Lodge prepares to serve the ball against Rochester University Oct. 30. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 23 in the latest coaches poll.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

SOTUTHFIELD — It’s easy to have fun when you’re winning, and the Lawrence Technological University volleyball team has been having a blast with the way it is playing.

The Blue Devils have been dominant, posting a 24-2 overall record and a 15-0 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference mark at press time.

Lawrence Tech has won eight in a row and 21 of its last 22 matches, while dropping just 12 total sets in that time.

“I’m really proud of this team. I’m really proud of how they work, and I love the way that LTU embraces us,” Blue Devils coach Ed Ruhl said.

When you look at the play of their senior three-headed monster, it’s easy to see why the Blue Devils have found so much success.

Zakia Hunt, Kristi Doherty and Varvara Gromakova have helped guide the Blue Devils to new heights, as they were ranked No. 23 in the NAIA volleyball Oct. 23 coaches poll.

Ruhl called Doherty the best setter Lawrence Tech has ever had, and she leads the team with 882 assists. Ruhl also praised Gromakova for her consistency on the outside, as she is third on the team in kills with 203.

In Hunt’s case, she has done nothing but terrorize opposing defenses by collecting a team-leading 310 kills. Ruhl called her the team’s biggest weapon.

“I think our senior leadership is one of those things that’s separating us, and I think we work a lot on our serve, pass,” Ruhl said. “We put immense pressure on other teams’ serving, and it’s tough for them to run an offense when they’re under that much pressure serving.”

With the regular season nearing its end, finding postseason success is on the mind of the Blue Devils.

Lawrence Tech is looking to win the conference tournament and continue its run into the national tournament. According to Ruhl, the top 20 teams in the coaches poll don’t have to play in the opening round of the tournament and head straight to pool play.

Should they advance to the pool play portion of the national tournament, which includes 32 total teams, the Blue Devils would head to Sioux City, Iowa. Pool play begins Dec. 3, with the national championship being played Dec. 7.

“Mainly, I think it’s winning the conference, winning the conference tournament and making it to Sioux City for the first time ever,” Ruhl said of his teams’ goals.

You can catch the Blue Devils on the court again at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at Madonna University.