DETROIT, Mich. – The Michigan Tech volleyball team pulled off a furious comeback en route to a 3-2 win (19-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-7) over Wayne State inside the Matthaei Center on the campus of Wayne State University.
"I can't say enough about the fight in this team," said head coach Matt Jennings following his team's second five-set win of the season. "We went into the third [set] knowing that it would take a lot to come all the way back to win. We agreed that it had to start with executing better on our side one point at a time, one set at a time, and that if we had a chance to find our rhythm, we could do it."
Michigan Tech (13-3, 7-1 GLIAC) opened the fifth set down 5-2 before tying the score at 5-5 thanks to a kill by senior Mariah Sherman and a pair of attack errors by the Warriors. Wayne State (9-7, 4-4 GLIAC) briefly retook the lead, but it wasn't for long as a kill from sophomore Anna Jonynas set up by sophomore Laura DeMarchi sparked a run of nine unanswered points by the Huskies to pull ahead 14-6. Sophomore Olivia Ghormley, who scored five of the nine points, finished off the match with the winning point. Jonynas was also crucial to the win in the fifth set, scoring three critical service aces and scoring the kill that kicked off the lengthy run. The Huskies finished with their best hitting percentage of the night, hitting .500, while limiting Wayne State to a hitting percentage of .111, their lowest of the match.
"They simply chose to keep fighting and as we got going, the momentum clearly shifted in our favor," Jennings added. "This win is a great lesson in never giving up and should be a great source of confidence as we go forward."
Down 2-0 in the match, the pivotal third set was tied early on before Wayne State pulled ahead 10-6. The Huskies continued to fight and kept in the set despite falling behind by as many as four points. Tech tied the score several times over the course of the frame, and eventually took the lead thanks to a kill by Ghormley and consecutive attack errors by the Warriors. With two kills by Sherman and a kill from junior Rachel Ping, the Huskies won the third set, 25-23. Tech out-hit Wayne State .259 - .216 in the set.
The Black and Gold came out motivated and firing in the fourth frame, jumping out to a quick lead that they would never relinquish. The Huskies scored from all over the court in the stanza, seeing five of their starters score at least one kill. The Warriors cut the deficit to at least three points a number of times over the course of the action, but the Huskies were able to prevent any lengthy Warrior runs with well-timed timeouts to help the team regroup and make run-stopping plays. The Huskies ended the frame with a 25-21 win to send the match into a fifth set.
The two teams battled back-and-forth in the opening set, with neither team able to sustain a large-enough lead. Wayne State was able to pull out to a three-point lead midway in the action, but Michigan Tech kept with them and eventually pulled ahead 18-17 late. Unfortunately, the Warriors reeled off four straight points to lead 21-18, and finished off the match with another four straight points to win 25-19.
Michigan Tech pulled ahead by four early in the second set, but the Warriors whittled them down and eventually pulled ahead with help from a 4-0 run that gave them a permanent lead. Trailing 21-15 late in the stanza, the Black and Gold rallied and brought the score to 22-21 in favor of the hosts, but Wayne State scored the next two points and eventually won the set, 25-23, to put the match score at 2-0.
Sherman led the team with a hitting percentage of .367 and scored 23 kills on the night. Ghormley finished as the highest-scoring player in the match with 23 kills, scoring a match-high 10 kills in the first set and the final five kills of the match for Michigan Tech. Jonynas and DeMarchi both recorded double-doubles, with DeMarchi recording 57 assists and 14 digs, and Jonynas tallied 22 digs and 12 kills.
The Huskies ended the night with a higher hitting percentage than the Warriors (.231 - .213) and higher kills (73-62). Tech also bettered Wayne State on assists (68-60), digs (90-80), and service aces (6-4). The Warriors finished with a higher number of total blocks (14-4) and with fewer errors (22-27).
Michigan Tech returns to action on Saturday (Sept. 29) when they take on Ashland (15-2, 8-0 GLIAC) at 2 p.m. inside the Kates Gymnasium on the campus of Ashland University. The Eagles picked up a 3-0 sweep over Northern Michigan on Friday.