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Match Day: Columbus Fury vs. Grand Rapids Rise

Grand Rapids Rise (10-10) at Columbus Fury (7-11]

GRAND RAPIDS RISE MATCH NOTES

PLAYOFF PUSH
With four wins in their last six matches, the Grand Rapids Rise are closing in on securing a postseason berth. The top four Pro Volleyball Federation teams will make the playoffs, with the Atlanta Vibe already claiming a spot. The Rise have a magic number of two over seventh-place Vegas, two over sixth-place Orlando, and four over fifth-place Columbus. The magic number decreases by one every time Grand Rapids wins or that opponent loses. When the magic number reaches zero, that team can no longer catch the Rise in the standings. (All magic numbers include one extra win, to avoid a tiebreaker). Therefore, Grand Rapids needs three out the seven teams to reach zero to make the playoffs.

SET-BY-SET BREAKDOWN
A look at how the Rise have fared across the different sets:
a First Set: 14-6 with a +52 point differential (492-440)
a Second Set: 12-8 with a -2 differential (459-461)
a Third Set: 7-13 with a -7 point differential (470-477)
a Fourth Set: 9-9 with a +5 point differential (427-422)
a Fifth Set: 2-4 with a -13 point differential (67-80)
With four regular-season matches remaining, Grand Rapids has a +35 point differential (1,915-1,880) and is 44-40 across all sets played. The Rise are 10-15 in sets decided by the minimum of two points and 20-15 in sets decided by five points or more

UNLEASH THE FURY
The Columbus Fury are one of seven teams taking the court in the inaugural season of Pro Volleyball Federation.

The Fury boast a roster that features a combined 64-years of professional experience.

The two newest additions to the team, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Nikoleta Perović have over 10 years of professional experience. Two players, Megan Courtney Lush and Raymariely Santos have seven-plus years of experience playing internationally.

Columbus’ roster features two Ohio State alums, Valeria León, and Jenaisya Moore, who will once again be playing volleyball in the Buckeye State. The team also features Buckeyes assistant coach, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley who joined the coaching staff in March of 2023.

The Fury join the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) and the Columbus Crew (MLS) as the major league teams representing the city.

The team hosted their home opener on Feb. 21 in front of a crowd of 9,165 at Nationwide Arena.

After an 0-2 start, the team won their next three matches behind the strong play of rookie Reagan Cooper. Cooper earned the Pro Volleyball Federation Player of the Week on 2/27 after totaling 66 points, 58 kills and 33 digs over three matches.

The Fury have been active in player transactions in the last week adding three new players to the roster: Tori Stringer, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, and Nikoleta Perović.

Columbus secured their second Pro Volleyball Federation Player of the Week award on March 26 after Asjia O’Neal totaled 30 kills, two blocks and two aces over two matches while hitting .453. She totaled 34 points for an average of 4.25 points per set.

STREAK SNAPPED
The Fury finally snapped their six-match losing streak in upset fashion, taking down the first-place Atlanta Vibe on April 19. Columbus dropped the opening set 25-23 before bouncing back to win the next three sets.

Jenaisya Moore stepped into the starting lineup on the road at Vegas and after a solid performance, she made the most of her opportunity starting again against the Vibe. She recorded her first professional double-double with 10 kills and a team-high 15 digs.

Kendall Kipp was electric at home once again as she put down 26 kills, the second-most by a Fury player this season, on an efficient .310 hitting percentage.

The Fury also had their best blocking performance of the year, totaling 15 blocks compared to 11 for the Vibe. It was also the first time Columbus put up double-digit blocks since their win over Atlanta on March 24.

MID-SEASON SLUMP
After a 4-2 start on the year, the Fury have dropped nine of their last 10 matches, their only win coming at home over Atlanta. The team is currently on a six-match losing skid.

In this stretch the team has seen three new additions to the roster while Asjia O’Neal, Jenna Rosenthal, Ray Santos, and Kaitlyn Hord have all spent time out due to injury or illness.

The team has used six different starting lineups over the eight-match stretch.

In the back-to-back sweeps at the hands of Atlanta and Orlando, the Fury combined for just 10 blocks over the six sets.

The pin hitters have been inconsistent over the stretch with Reagan Cooper putting up three single-digit kill performances, but also going 10-18 in the loss to Atlanta and putting down 17 kills in the loss to Omaha.

Megan Courtney Lush had her best performance of the season with 17 kills of her own in the loss to Omaha.

The team battled it out in five sets at home against San Diego on April 12, but came up short with a few late errors in set five. Kipp debuted in the match with 20 kills and Cooper had a 20-20 match with 22 kills and 23 digs, but it wasn’t enough to come away with the win.

The team was without Reagan Cooper in their recent loss on the road at Vegas for another match not at full strength.

BIG BLOCKS
The Fury are stacked at middle blocker. With four middles on the roster, they combined for huge numbers in college:

First overall draft pick, Asjia O’Neal is coming off back-to-back National Championships with he Longhorns and made her mark as the program’s all-time leading blocker a Kaitlyn Hord was named an All-American four times between Penn State and Nebraska, closing out her career by leading the nation in blocks while with the Cornhuskers.

Rainelle Jones was dominant in her time at Maryland, and just one season before Hord, led the nation in blocks for the ‘Terps.

Jenna Rosenthal was named All-Big East twice while at Marquette and worked her way to the highest levels of the German Bundesliga in her five-year career as a pro.

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