BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Michigan Tech Huskies won a four-setter GLIAC Tournament Semifinal match Saturday (Nov. 18) over the Northern Michigan Wildcats in the Ewigleben Sports Arena to advance to the GLIAC Championship game Sunday (Nov. 19). The Huskies won with scores 25-22, 16-25, 25-20, and 25-21.
"I am so incredibly proud to be a Husky tonight," said head coach Matt Jennings. "To see the team lay it all on the line and fight for that win was a sight to see. We had a nice group of fans come and be part of it which was a difference maker. It almost felt like a home match at times with all those parents, students, and even part of the band there."
Tech is now 20-9 overall, winning 20 matches for the first time since 1997. The third-seeded Huskies knocked out No. 2 seed NMU (21-8 overall). The Huskies face the No. 1-ranked Ferris State Bulldogs Sunday in the 2017 GLIAC Tournament Championship Match. This is the third time in the program's 41-year history they have advanced to the conference tournament final. The Huskies last GLIAC Championship appearance was in 1996 as runner-up and in 1994 as the tournament champions.
Tonight's match marks Coach Jennings first win inside the Ewigleben Sports Arena. Under Jenning's leadership, the Black and Gold matched one of the best blocking teams in the country 9-9 in blocks and tallied 50 kills to give the Huskies the winning edge.
Strong serves in set one set the Huskies tempo. The Huskies won the opening set 25-22 and Tech's point leader, MacAulay Petersen recorded six kills in the first set.
NMU responded in set two, going on a 6-0 run. The Wildcats took advantage of their opportunity to take a set in their possession and came out on top with a 25-16 victory. Tech only managed seven kills in the second set, but held Northern to nine.
The Huskies took control in the final sets where Laura DeMarchi, Lauren Emmert and Anna Jonynas all were serving especially well, taking the Wildcats out of system. Tech owned set three with a 25-20 victory. The Black and Gold were down 18-13 in the fourth set and fought back, outscoring NMU 12-3 down the stretch for the 25-21 win.
DeMarchi set the Huskies offense with 45 assists, seven digs, four blocks, and a serving ace.
Tech's defense was solid against the Wildcats. Senior middle blocker, Lauren Emmert tallied seven total blocks (thee solo blocks, four block assists). Emmert also chipped in seven kills. Stephanie Dietrich stepped in for a pair of blocks and six kills while hitting .417.
Offensively the Huskies were led by sophomore outside hitter and lead scorer, MacAulay Petersen. Petersen tallied 16 kills, including tonight's match winner. Mariah Sherman had 10 kills and Olivia Ghormley added eight kills.
The backcourt held strong, with defensive specialist senior Elle Heinonen tallying 20 digs and surpassing the single season dig record (J. Aird 2015) with 531 digs. Heinonen climbed to third all-time with 1,489 digs and had 20 or more digs in six of the last eight matches. She posted 18 digs in the quarterfinal match vs. Tiffin Nov. 15. Both Halie Hart (12) and Anna Jonynas (11) had double digit digs.
"Now that we got to enjoy this one for a little bit, it's on to Ferris and tomorrow's match," Jennings added. "We're thrilled at the chance for a rematch and another shot at the title. We're going to be ready, it should be an exciting match."
The Bulldogs swept the Huskies on November 11 at the SDC Gym to win the regular season title and had a 3-0 win on September 22 in Big Rapids. First serve in the 2017 GLIAC Tournament Championship Match is set for 3 p.m. Fans can watch for free HERE.