HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech was defeated 3-1 (16-25, 18-25, 25-16, 24-26) by No. 11 Ferris State despite a valiant effort in the final two sets. With the loss, the Huskies drop to 10-3 overall and 4-1 in the GLIAC, snapping a five-match winning streak.
After dropping the first two sets to the 11th-ranked Bulldogs (10-3, 5-0 GLIAC), the Huskies responded by jumping out to an early 5-0 lead in the third and poured it on as they continued to make smart, accurate plays and force Ferris State into seven errors, its most of the night. Tech's lead grew to as large as 23-10 before the Bulldogs rallied for six out of seven points to make it a close match before senior Mariah Sherman finished off a service by sophomore Laura DeMarchi to extend the match to another set.
In the fourth, the Black and Gold fell behind early 5-1 and soon the score was 9-4 in favor of the visitors. However, the Huskies dug deep and tied the game at 12-12 before taking a 14-12 lead into a Ferris State timeout. The lead grew to 16-13, but the Bulldogs kept close until they pulled ahead with a 4-1 run to put the score at 22-19. With the score at 23-20 and not in their favor, the Huskies responded with three straight points to tie it at 23-23 and eventually 24-24. Unfortunately, Ferris State finished off the match with two consecutive kills to dash the hopes of a major upset.
"I told the girls in the locker room that I'm proud of the way they responded," said head coach Matt Jennings. " I think a lesser team goes out there and lays an egg following the second set, going into the third. I was really proud of the way that we fought back and we came to play in those last two sets."
Junior Rachel Ping led the way for Michigan Tech on offense. The middle blocker stepped up and scored nine kills on 14 attempts with three errors for an attack rating of .429. Junior Emilia Widen also had a good day on the court with eight kills and a .261 attack rating, along with four block assists and one solo block. Sophomore Olivia Ghormley led all players with 18 kills, and DeMarchi posted 47 assists.
The Huskies weathered a storm of Bulldog attacks and limited them to a .199 attack rating while recording 92 digs as a team, with sophomore Megan Utlak leading the way with 26 as one of five players in double figures. Joining her in double figures were sophomore Anna Jonynas (20), freshman Grace Novotny (18), and DeMarchi and junior Kristine Fink (12).
Tech came out firing in the first set and jumped out to a 14-9 lead before Ferris State responded with eight straight points to make it 17-14. The Bulldogs picked up where they left off following a timeout by the Black and Gold to score eight out of the final ten points to win the first set.
The Huskies fell behind in the second set early 4-1 before rattling off five points to pull ahead 6-4. Ferris State responded with eight of the next nine points to go on top 12-7. Tech continued to fight and play tough, but they were undone by seven errors in the frame, and the Bulldogs pulled away to a 25-18 win.
MTU scored more kills than Ferris State, 57-52, despite hitting .195 to their .199. The Huskies also finished the night with more assists, 53-47.
Michigan Tech welcomes Davenport to the SDC Gym next Friday (Sept. 21) at 5 p.m. before facing Grand Valley State on Saturday (Sept. 22) at 2 p.m.
"We've got to put tonight behind us and get ready for next weekend," Jennings said of his upcoming schedule. "We've got two good teams coming in, and I'd like to see us continue the way we've been playing."
The Panthers (8-6, 3-2 GLIAC) currently sit tied for third with Wayne State in the South Division and are coming off a 3-0 win over Purdue Northwest. Meanwhile, the Lakers (9-4, 2-3 GLIAC) are fourth in the South following a 3-1 victory against Parkside.