INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – No. 25 Michigan Tech suffered a 3-1 defeat (19-25, 22-25, 25-16, 19-25) on Saturday against No. 10 Rockhurst inside The Academy Volleyball Club at the 2018 Midwest Region Crossover. The loss snaps an eight-match winning streak for the Huskies, and drops their overall record to 18-4.
"We battled hard but simply fell short," head coach Matt Jennings said. "Rockhurst is a great team that plays a very disciplined game. I'm very proud of the performance we put up this weekend and we should feel good about where we are as a team going into the final leg of the regular season."
Needing a win to prevent being swept, the Huskies fell behind 3-1 in the opening stages of the third set before rattling off four straight points to take the lead. The Hawks (22-3, 10-1 GLVC) tied it up, but the Huskies went on another four-point run to pull ahead 9-5. MTU survived a four-point run by the Hawks and went on a seven-point spree, with sophomore Anna Jonynas registering three kills during the run, to put them on top 17-9. Rockhurst would only come within five points of the Huskies, and the 25th-ranked Black and Gold ended up winning 25-16 to extend the match another set.
The Huskies trailed early in the fourth set before going scoring three of the next four points to tie it at 4-4. Jonynas and Olivia Ghormley put the Huskies ahead, but they fell behind again after three straight Hawk points. Two straight Ghormley kills tied the game at 8-8, but Rockhurst pulled ahead with three straight points. Tech was within one point of tying the game once again, but Rockhurst tallied four straight points to widen their lead. The Huskies continued to fight and play hard, but in the end they were defeated 25-19 in the final set.
Tech fell behind 8-4 in the opening stages of the second set before reeling off five straight points to lead 9-8. The teams traded points going forward, neither able to pull away from the other, until Rockhurst split a 12-12 tie with four straight points. The Hawks led by as many as four points deep into the set until two kills by freshman Janie Grindland and a tandem block by Grindland and sophomore Laura DeMarchi put the score at 23-22. However, Rockhurst would end up scoring the final two kills to win the stanza, 25-22.
The opening set was a close contest between two talented teams, with each side trading points. It wasn't until the score was tied at 10-10 did the set finally break open, with Rockhurst reeling off four straight points. The Huskies weren't able to close the gap to fewer than two points, and the Hawks finished the set scoring five of the final eight points to win 25-19.
Despite dropping the match, the Huskies finished better in several key statistical categories than the Hawks. Tech edged Rockhurst in team hitting percentage (.278 -.269), kills (68-60), assists (67-57), and digs (81-72). Individually, Ghormley had another stellar match as she ended the match with 25 kills and a hitting percentage of .377. DeMarchi led all players with 58 assists, and earned a double-double by digging out 18 attacks. Jonynas and senior Mariah Sherman both finished with double figures in kills with 15 and 10, respectively. Of the team's 81 digs, sophomore Megan Utlak led the way with 21, and she was joined by DeMarchi (18), Jonynas (14), and freshman Grace Novotny (12) as the four Huskies recording double-figures. DeMarchi and Sherman both recorded solo blocks, and Grindland nabbed a pair of block assists.
Overall, the Huskies finished the Midwest Region Crossover with a record of 2-1, their best mark at the tournament since the 2009 season. For their performances over the last two days, Ghormley and DeMarchi were named to the Crossover GLIAC All-Tournament Team. Ghormley finished with 56 kills (4.67/set) and an attack rating of .253, while DeMarchi totaled 149 assists (12.42/set) and 45 digs (3.75/set).
With the Midwest Region Crossover now concluded, the Huskies will play at home for the first time in three weeks. Lake Superior State will be the first of three consecutive home matches inside the SDC Gym, and the teams will square off on Friday (Oct. 19) at 7 p.m.
"It's been a long three weeks on the road and I'm grateful for the effort and attitude the girls played with out there. I'm certainly pleased to have gone 6-1 over that stretch," Jennings said. "That said, we're pretty darn pumped to be back home in the UP next weekend. There's nothing like playing in front of our great fans in the wood gym."
Lake Superior State (5-16, 2-9 GLIAC) went 2-1 at the Midwest Region Crossover with wins over Ursuline, Trevecca Nazarene, and a loss to Ohio Valley. The teams last met in Sault Ste. Marie on September 8, and the Huskies walked away with a 3-0 win over the Lakers.