Grand Rapids Rise

Rise Outlast Vibe in Five Set Thriller

February 18, 2024 - Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF)
Grand Rapids Rise News Release

Marin Grote (left) and Emiliya Dimitrova of the Grand Rapids Rise react after a big point against the Atlanta Vibe
Marin Grote (left) and Emiliya Dimitrova of the Grand Rapids Rise react after a big point against the Atlanta Vibe
(Grand Rapids Rise, Credit: Nicholas Carrillo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The only Pro Federation Volleyball team the Atlanta Vibe can't beat is the Grand Rapids Rise. The Rise on Sunday fended off the Vibe for a second time this season, this time doing so inside Van Andel Arena, 3-2, by set scores of 25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 23-25, 15-11.

Grand Rapids claimed the first, second, and fifth sets to regain the top spot in the League with a 3-1 record, while the Vibe dropped to 4-2, with both of their losses having come against the Rise.

The opening set was last tied at 8-8 before the Rise matched their longest point streak of the season by scoring five straight to build a 13-8 cushion. A block by Marin Grote took the match into the first media timeout with the Rise up six points, 15-9.

The Vibe got back within three points but then gave away a point on a service error, and Claire Chaussee followed that up with her third kill of the match, 18-13. Atlanta cut the deficit down to three again at 20-17, and Rise head coach Cathy George decided to call her first timeout.

A kill from Emiliya Dimitrova and block from Kayla Caffey flipped the momentum and forced Atlanta into a timeout down 22-17. The Rise pushed through and capped the first frame with a kill from Grote, 25-19, who finished with three kills and four blocks in the set.

Grote ended the match with eight kills and seven blocks, both season highs for the middle blocker.

Grand Rapids opened the second set on form with a 6-1 run, capped by Dimitrova's seventh kill of the match, before Atlanta reluctantly took an early timeout. Shortly after, the Vibe put together a 6-0 run to even the score at 12-12.

The teams traded points up to 16-16, then the Rise pushed ahead with Dimitrova's 10th kill and a timely ace from Symone Abbott that clipped the top of the net and dropped in middle of the Vibe's defense. Another Rise 5-0 run got Grand Rapids within two points, 23-17.

Following a kill from Vibe's Shelly Fanning, the Rise closed out the frame via an Atlanta attack error and a block from Dimitrova, 25-18.

Atlanta prevented Grand Rapids from completing the sweep in the third set by claiming the middle frame by the minimum, 25-23. The Vibe lead early, but the Rise battled back with Dimitrova putting down multiple clutch kills. Atlanta, however, won the final two points to push the match to a fourth set. Dimitrova had six of the 12 Rise kills in the set.

Dimitrova finished with a match-high of 26 kills with only three attack errors (.397 hitting percentage). She also collected a match-high 22 digs, while Chaussee finished with a double-double with 16 kills and 19 digs. Anna Lazareva, playing her first Pro Volleyball Federation match, paced the Vibe with 25 kills (.339) and 17 digs.

Rise setter Mac Podraza replaced Ashley Evans with the Rise down 11-7 in the fourth set. Evans finished with 49 assists, nine digs, and a block.

The setter change wasn't enough to spark the Rise offense right away but a successful "net touch violation" challenge flipped the score from 19-11 to 18-12, giving Grand Rapids the boost it needed. The Rise rallied with a 9-2 run from that point on to go up 21-20. Abbott capped the comeback with two powerful kills and a block.

Yet, once again, the Vibe escaped with a 25-23 set win by winning the last two points, courtesy of a Leah Edmond kill and a Rise attack error. For the first time in franchise history, the Rise were going to a fifth set.

A back-and-forth final frame swung in the Rise favor when George subbed in 5-foot-2 defensive specialist Camila Gómez to serve for Caffey. Gómez helped turn a 9-8 deficit into an 11-9 lead. Grand Rapids didn't look back and fed the ball to their experienced veteran, Dimitrova, to secure three out of their final four points. This gave the Rise the set, 15-11, and ultimately, the match, 3-2.


The 25-18 set two win was the second-largest margin of victory in a set this season for the Rise. Grand Rapids defeated Columbus, 25-17, in its first-ever set played on Jan. 25.

Atlanta Vibe improved to 8-0 this season in sets decided by two points.

Grand Rapids set new match highs in kills (72), assists (64), and digs (86).

The Rise now gear up for three straight road matches, with two trips to San Diego to face the Mojo on Feb. 23 and March 4, and a stop in Orlando to take on the Valkyries on March 1. This is the first of three stretches this season that will include three consecutive road matches for the Rise.

ATL 19 18 25 25 11 - 2

GR 25 25 23 23 15 - 3

Team Leaders

ATL: Kills - Anna Lazareva 25, Leah Edmond 20, Karis Watson 6, Alli Linnehan 6; Assists - Marlie Monserez 33, Tori Stringer 19, Morgan Hentz 7; Aces - Lazareva 1, Edmond 1, Linnehan 1; Blocks - Watson 4, Edmond 3, Shelly Fanning 2; Digs - Hentz 21, Lazareva 17, Edmond 15, Linnehan 11.

GR: Kills - Emiliya Dimitrova 26, Claire Chaussee 16, Symone Abbott 16; Assists - Ashley Evans 49, Mac Podraza 10, Abbott 2; Aces - Marin Grote 1, Dimitrova 1, Abbott 1; Blocks - Grote 7, Dimitrova 2, Kayla Caffey 2; Digs - Dimitrova 22, Chaussee 19, Sarah Sponcil 15, Evans 10.

A - 4,566

Record / Next Match

Grand Rapids: 3-1 / Fri., Feb. 23 at San Diego, 10 p.m. EST

Atlanta: 4-2 / Thu., Feb. 29 vs. Omaha Supernovas, 7 p.m.

Images from this story

Marin Grote (left) and Emiliya Dimitrova of the Grand Rapids Rise react after a big point against the Atlanta Vibe
Marin Grote (left) and Emiliya Dimitrova of the Grand Rapids Rise react after a big point against the Atlanta Vibe

(Nicholas Carrillo)

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