HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech volleyball team faced another difficult opponent on Saturday, and they came away with a hard-fought 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-22, 25-19) over Grand Valley State inside the SDC Gym. With the win, the Huskies push their record to 12-3 overall and 6-1 in the GLIAC.
"Any time you come out with a 3-0 win in a league like this is a good thing," said head coach Matt Jennings. "I'm really happy with the way we played. We pulled off that first set, stuck to our game plan, came out ahead, and I'm really proud of the way the girls played."
The Lakers (10-5, 3-4 GLIAC) led 15-11 at the midpoint of the first set before a kill by senior Mariah Sherman sparked a Husky comeback as the hosts rallied for eight of 10 points to lead 19-17. Tech's steely resolve and effective attacking, quarterbacked by sophomore setter Laura DeMarchi, allowed them to keep the Lakers on their heels and unable to come back. The Huskies finished off a late GVSU rally with a kill by their senior outside hitter Sherman.
"Winning that first set gave us a big boost in confidence," said DeMarchi, who ended her day with 41 assists and eight digs. "We knew that if we could win that set, then we were going to win the match."
The Black and Gold never trailed in the second set, gaining the lead early and never relinquishing it thanks to great team play. Although Grand Valley State threatened throughout, the Huskies kept their composure and answered any time the Lakers tried to spark a run. With their lead down to one late in the set, Sherman put them on set point with another kill before winning the frame thanks to a Laker attack that sailed long and out. Sherman was at her best in the second set, scoring on seven of her eight attacks.
"When we started to get our rhythm, that got us rolling on offense and defense," said Sherman, who finished with 13 kills and a hitting percentage of .233. "Everybody's been playing great and stepping up when they need to."
Grand Valley State looked to be in control of the third set, jumping out to a 9-5 lead, before Michigan Tech reeled off six straight points following a service error by the Lakers to lead 11-9. The service of sophomore Anna Jonynas was critical during this run, as she scored three service aces and kept the Lakers off-balance. The Huskies didn't trail for the rest of the stanza and Tech eventually defeated GVSU to end their homestand with an important conference win.
Michigan Tech finished with a hitting percentage of .236 and 46 kills compared to Grand Valley State's .200 rating and 37 kills. Sophomore Olivia Ghormley finished with the highest hitting percentage and kills among the team, with 16 and .351 respectively. Junior Emilia Widen also had a good day on the court, scoring seven kills and finishing with a hitting percentage of .316.
The Husky defense saw two players end with double figures in digs, with Jonynas and sophomore Megan Utlak both finishing with 12 each . The Huskies ended the day with five total blocks, and junior Rachel Ping led the team with one solo block and two block assists.
With this stretch of four home matches behind them, the Huskies embark on a three-week road trip against conference and regional foes. Michigan Tech will take on Wayne State (9-6, 4-3 GLIAC) on Friday (Sept. 28) and then Ashland (14-2, 6-0 GLIAC) on Saturday (Sept. 29).
"We have a nice opportunity to go into what is going to be a long stretch of road matches against some good opponents," Jennings added. "With a little more confidence, knowing that we're 6-1 going into this, it's a huge deal. When this team is confident, we're a lot of fun to watch."
The Warriors recently defeated Purdue Northwest 3-0, while the Eagles are coming off a 3-0 victory against Parkside. Wayne State was picked to finish first in the GLIAC South Division standings, while Ashland was predicted to finish fourth.