ANCHORAGE, AK. - Michigan Tech volleyball put a bow on their UAA Invitational in style with a dominating 3-0 win over Barton College in the early afternoon before putting on a terrific show in front of nearly 1,000 fans in an exhilarating 3-2 loss to host Alaska Anchorage.
VS. BARTON COLLEGE
In the first match, Michigan Tech came out and took immediate control of the match en route to a 3-0 sweep (25-13, 25-16, 25-15) of Barton College to improve to 3-0 on the year.
The Huskies were the definition of dominant against the Bulldogs. As a team, they achieved an attack efficiency of .400 and out-killed Barton 49 to 27. Even more impressive is that in 100 attack attempts, the Huskies committed only nine errors, while Barton committed 15 errors on 90 attempts.
"I thought it was the cleanest match we've played all weekend," said head coach Matt Jennings. "We came out of the gates really organized and played our game, controlled the tempo of the match, and dominant on both sides of the ball."
The Huskies also had multiple players hit above .300 percent in attack efficiency. Sophomores Anna Jonynas and Olivia Ghormley were particularly effective, scoring .500 and .423 percent ratings, respectively. Jonynas notched 13 kills on 26 attempts with no errors, and Ghormley scored 13 kills on 26 attempts with just two errors. Jonynas also scored three service aces, and Ghormley recorded two solo blocks.
"Mariel coming in, in the second and third set, and stepping up and doing a really good job getting the offense going in her season debut was very nice to see," added Jennings.
Tech was also dominant in defense, outblocking Barton 41-34 and recording four team blocks to the Bulldogs' one. It was an all-around controlling effort from the Huskies. Megan Utlak led the way for Tech with 10 digs in the match, while Jonynas recorded nine digs, and Maggie Petersen finished with eight.
VS. ALASKA ANCHORAGE
Michigan Tech dropped the first two sets before rallying late to send it to the second fifth-set match in as many days, but the Huskies fell in an absolutely thrilling 3-2 contest (28-26, 22-25, 25-20, 26-24, 11-15) against host Alaska Anchorage in the final day of the 2018 UAA Invitational. The Huskies (3-1) nearly erased a seven-point deficit in the final set on match point, but their opponents were able to squeak out the win over the underdog Huskies.
The Huskies finished the night with a better attacking efficiency than their opponents, despite dropping the first two sets. The Huskies ended up with a .169 percent when attacking compared to Alaska Anchorage's .144 percent. The Huskies also finished with significantly more kills than the Seawolves, 76 to 53.
"I don't know if I've been so inspired by a Husky team as I have been tonight," said seventh-year head coach Matt Jennings. "That was one of the most exciting matches that I've ever been apart of. From the defense to the extended rallies, and with the toughness shown here tonight, I don't think we're going to forget tonight's match."
Junior Olivia Ghormley was the stand-out player for Michigan Tech, leading all players with a career-high 30 kills and recording an attacking efficiency of .310 percent against the Seawolves (3-0). Also setting a career-best in tonight's match was sophomore Anna Jonynas for digs (27), and sophomore Laura DeMarchi for assists (64).
"It's a credit to the passers tonight," said Ghormley, who finished with an astonishing 74 kills over the two-day invitational. "They were amazing, especially in the last two sets, and to the girls in the back keeping us alive with their defense."
Defensively, sophomore Megan Utlak led all players with 32 digs, bringing her weekend total to 80 as she earned double-digit figures in every match. She recorded a match-best 13 digs in the fourth set and was instrumental in limiting the Seawolves to just .144 percent attacking efficiency.
"I was just doing anything to keep the ball alive, to keep my team alive, and to get them fired up," said Utlak. "That's what it's all about; the team, and everyone playing at their best all the time."
For their performances over two days, Utlak and Ghormley were named to the UAA Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Michigan Tech returns to the U.P. and to action this Friday and Saturday in the Wildcat Open, hosted by Northern Michigan. They take on Bemidji State and Minnesota-Duluth on Friday (Aug. 31) before squaring off against St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Crookston the following day.