Grand Rapids Rise

Rise Head to West Coast to Challenge Mojo

February 21, 2024 - Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF)
Grand Rapids Rise News Release

Grand Rapids Rise libero Camila Gómez
Grand Rapids Rise libero Camila Gómez
(Grand Rapids Rise, Credit: Nicolas Carrillo)

This Week's Match

RISE at San Diego // Fri., Feb. 23 // 10 p.m. EST // Viejas Arena

Watch: YouTube at 10 p.m.

Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two at Viejas Arena

All-Time Series: 0-0 Overall, 0-0 Away

Noteworthy: Grand Rapids looks to improve to 2-0 on the road this season and maintain its first-place spot on top of the League standings. After dropping three away matches to start the season, San Diego will be the last Pro Volleyball Federation team in the inaugural season to host its home opener. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings is an owner of the Mojo.

Going the Distance: In a battle of the League's top two teams, the Rise needed all five sets on Sunday to defeat the Atlanta Vibe for the second time this season. Grand Rapids won the first two sets (25-19, 25-18) before dropping the next two (25-23, 25-23) to reach its first five-set match in franchise history. Trailing 9-7, the Rise used an 8-2 run to close out the fifth set, 15-11, and win the match, 3-2. Impressively, the Rise generated a .500 attack percentage in the fifth set with 11 out of their 15 points coming off kills. Seven of those kills came from veteran opposite hitter Emiliya Dimitrova, who only had eight attack attempts in the frame (.875).

Dynamic Dimitrova Recognized: The final set heroics against Atlanta only captured a fraction of what Dimitrova delivered when she was continuously called upon. She finished with a match-high 26 kills with three attack errors on 58 swings to produce a season-best .397 hitting percentage.

As a result, Dimitrova was named the Week 4 Pro Volleyball Federation Player of the Week. She also added two blocks and an ace for a total of 29 points - tied for the second-most individual points in a Pro Volleyball Federation match. With 22 digs, Dimitrova recorded her third double-double performance this season. With 66 kills this season, she ranks second on the team behind Claire Chaussee (68).

Pro Volleyball Federation weekly award winners:

Week 1: Alli Linnehan, OH, Atlanta Vibe

Week 2: Leah Edmond, OH, Atlanta Vibe

Week 3: Adora Anae, OH, Orlando Valkyries

Week 4: Emiliya Dimitrova, OPP, Grand Rapids Rise

Fast Starts: The Rise have won the opening set in all four matches so far this season. Grand Rapids is winning the first set by an average of 5.75 points. They are also 2-0 when scoring the first point of the match. The Rise hit .333 (vs. CLB), .235 (at ATL), .342 (vs. OMA), and .255 (vs. ATL) in first sets, while hitting .257 overall for the season.

Grote Finds Her Groove: Middle blocker Marin Grote put together her best match against Atlanta on Sunday with a season-high eight kills (.300 hitting percentage) and seven blocks. Grote turned in four blocks and three kills in the first set alone. She also had an ace, a dig, and an assist. Grote currently leads the Rise with 18 blocks this season, playing in 15 of the team's 16 sets.

Setter Switches: United States National Team member Ashley Evans played every point as the Rise's setter through the first two matches. The fourth set in the last two matches, however, has seen rookie setter Mac Podraza subbed in to give the Grand Rapids offense a boost. While Podraza hasn't been able to complete the comeback efforts to win either of the fourth sets, she has provided a spark coming off the bench. The Rise have outscored their opponents, 33-29, with Podraza running the offense.

Images from this story

Grand Rapids Rise libero Camila Gómez
Grand Rapids Rise libero Camila Gómez

(Nicolas Carrillo)

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