UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The Michigan Tech volleyball team kicked off GLIAC play with an emphatic 3-0 win (25-19, 25-21, 26-24) over Saginaw Valley State Friday evening at the O'Neill Arena. Tech improves to 7-2 (1-0) with the sweep, the fifth of the season for the Black and Gold.
The Huskies, who were picked to finish second in the GLIAC North Division in the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, battled back in the third set late as they trailed 23-22 to the Cardinals (6-3, 0-1 GLIAC). However, the Huskies were resilient once again and raised their level of play as they pulled ahead thanks to performances by Olivia Ghormley and Anna Jonynas. Mariah Sherman finished off the match with a kill off a set by Megan Utlak, forcing an SVSU blocking error.
"Winning on the road in the GLIAC is never an easy thing to do," said head coach Matt Jennings. "To come out and sweep a talented Saginaw team is a great way to begin league play. Tonight's win was important and pretty well played on both sides of the ball."
Ghormley continued her hot start to the season with another solid performance tonight. She finished with a match-high 19 kills recording a hitting percentage of .372, recording only three errors in 43 attacking attempts. Junior Emilia Widen added seven kills and a .467 attack percentage. Sophomore Laura DeMarchi had another excellent performance from the setter position, racking up 40 assists and averaging 13.33 assists per set. It's the fifth time in nine matches that DeMarchi finished with 40 or more assists in a match.
"Olivia and Emilia were the engines of our offense tonight, and Laura did a great job getting the ball and spreading it around in general," said Jennings of tonight's showing.
On the defensive side of the court, Michigan Tech forced the opposition into committing 20 errors and limited Saginaw Valley State to a sub-.100 attacking percentage in the first two sets. Of the team's 54 digs, Jonynas recorded 18 of them while sophomore Utlak tallied 15.
"Our blocking was much better in this match," Jennings added. "While we didn't rack up a ton of block points, we closed down pretty well and got a bunch of good touches that slowed down their pin hitters, who we know can score."
Tech finished the match statistically superior to the Cardinals, recording a .258 hitting efficiency to .107 for SVSU and finished with 47 kills on 120 attempts while limiting the Cardinals to 32 kills on 112 attacking attempts. Tech also ended the match with more digs, 54-48.
The Huskies controlled the first set, outhitting the Cardinals .205-.081. Down early and coming out of a timeout, Tech rallied to score 13 points to pull ahead 15-11. Tech continued to control the pace of the first set, leading by as many as six points before closing out the set with a kill by Ghormley.
Tech fell behind early in the second set, trailing 9-5 before going on a run of nine unanswered points to lead 14-9. Ghormley was responsible for six of the team's nine kills during the run. The Huskies pulled out to a 20-13 lead, and held off a late Cardinal rally to close out the set with four straight points.
The Huskies remain on the road as they travel to Sault Ste. Marie to take on Lake Superior State (1-8, 0-1 GLIAC) on Saturday (Sept. 8) at 2:00 p.m. LSSU took No. 23 Northern Michigan to five sets Friday before falling to the Wildcats.