HOUGHTON, Mich. – No.24 Michigan Tech grinded out a 3-1 win (25-22, 25-16, 11-25, 25-18) over Saginaw Valley State inside the SDC Gym Saturday afternoon. With the win, Michigan Tech's record now stands at 20-4 overall and 12-1 in the GLIAC, giving them consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
"On the whole, it was a good win against a good Saginaw team," said head coach Matt Jennings. "I liked the way that we counter-punched and came out with the win."
The teams went back-and-forth in scoring points to open the fourth set, with neither team able to pull away from the other early on, until Michigan Tech broke things open with a seven-point run behind the service of sophomore Anna Jonynas to force the Cardinals (16-8, 9-4 GLIAC) into four attacking errors. Following another two Husky kills by junior Emilia Widen and sophomore Olivia Ghormley, Tech led 16-10. The Cardinals kept the score close, pulling to within three points midway through the action, but they weren't able to threaten any further as the Huskies poured on the pressure to close out the set and the match in favor of the hosts.
The Black and Gold opened the first set red-hot with six straight points before SVSU could get on the board. The Huskies would build a 13-4 lead midway through the frame before the Cardinals woke up and scored eight of the next 10 points to make it a 15-12 set. Saginaw Valley State continued to score and eventually tied the game at 18-18. The teams traded points late in the action until a Ghormley kill followed by a Cardinal attacking error and a joint block by Jonynas and junior Rachel Ping closed out the set for the Huskies.
The Cardinals scored four of the first six points of the second set before Michigan Tech scored the next five points to lead 7-4. The teams traded points and service in the middle of the set until Tech scored eight of nine points to pull ahead 21-11. Tech closed out the set to win 25-16, with Widen once again delivering the final kill of the set. The Black and Gold had their best performance of the afternoon during the second set, scoring on 15 of 34 attacks with only three errors for a .353 hitting percentage, while limiting the Cardinals to only eight kills on 32 attempts and forcing them into seven attacking errors.
Michigan Tech didn't get off on the right foot to begin the third set as they fell behind 8-4 before coach Jennings called timeout. The Huskies kept it close until midway through the frame when the Cardinals went off for eight unanswered points to lead 22-8. Tech scored three more points to avoid being held to single-digits, but the Cardinals quickly finished off the set to extend the match.
Widen finished with 12 kills on 19 attempts for a hitting percentage of .632 on the day with two block assists, with six of those kills coming in an excellent fourth set for the junior middle blocker. Over these last two matches, Widen has combined for 19 kills on 28 attacks and no errors for a hitting percentage of .679.
"They realized Olivia was a huge threat on our team, and they were focused so much on her that they left the net open for me," says Widen. "So Laura saw that and was giving me the ball when she saw their block was too focused on Olivia."
Sophomore Laura DeMarchi led all players with 44 assists while also contributing nine digs and four kills to the win. Senior Mariah Sherman quietly finished with 14 kills on 32 attacks for a .312 hitting percentage while also recording four digs and two solo blocks. Ghormley led the team with 15 kills, with seven of those kills coming in the first set.
Defensively, Jonynas led the team with 18 digs, the 19th time this season she's finished in double-figures. Jonynas was joined by sophomore Megan Utlak and freshman Grace Novotny in reaching double-digits in digs, recording 13 each. Ping was credited with four block assists to lead the team.
The Huskies will close out their regular season home schedule on Friday (Oct. 26) when they host Northern Michigan at 7 p.m. The teams last met on September 11 and the Huskies left the Vandament Arena with a 3-1 win over the Wildcats (14-9, 3-9 GLIAC). The Black and Gold have won the last three matches over their U.P. rivals.