HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech volleyball team is back in the NCAA postseason for the second year in a row, and the Huskies will take on Lewis in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament. The Huskies and Flyers will battle it out on Thursday (Nov. 15) from inside the O'Reilly Center on the campus of Drury University, the region's top seed.
Michigan Tech enters the Tournament with a 23-6 record and a mark of 14-2 in the GLIAC, earning them the second seed in the conference tournament. The Huskies swept Grand Valley State in the Quarterfinal before being eliminated 3-2 by Davenport in the Semifinal. In spite of the loss, the Huskies were selected for their second consecutive NCAA Tournament, earning the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Regional bracket.
"The loss to Davenport was a bit of a setback for the team," said head coach Matt Jennings. "We were a bit disappointed that we didn't get to play the final match for the second year in a row. We're using that loss as an opportunity to bounce back and reset, and our spirits were lifted on Sunday when we were selected for the NCAA Tournament."
Michigan Tech placed four athletes on the All-GLIAC teams, with sophomores Laura DeMarchi and Olivia Ghormley and senior Mariah Sherman receiving First Team honors and sophomore Megan Utlak receiving Honorable Mention recognition. Additionally, DeMarchi was rewarded with the second GLIAC Setter of the Year selection of her career, and Ghormley was named GLIAC Attacker of the Year.
The Black and Gold boasts one of the top offenses in the country, ranking 20th in kills per set (14.20) and 30th in team hitting percentage (.237) in 2018. Leading this outstanding offense is a pair of award-winning sophomores in DeMarchi and Ghormley. DeMarchi repeated as GLIAC Setter of the Year and All-GLIAC First Team after posting 1,224 assists and an average of 11.77 assists per set. Meanwhile, Ghormley was named GLIAC Attacker of the Year and All-GLIAC First Team after posting 510 kills and an average of 4.64 kills per set. Both players were named to the D2CCA All-Region Second Team for their performances on the year.
Sherman is also a standout player for the Huskies, recording 371 kills (3.37/set) and 61 total blocks (0.55/set) to earn All-GLIAC First Team recognition. Utlak has been all over the court for Tech in 2018, digging out 499 attacks and averaging 4.54 digs per set and recording 89 assists with an average of 0.81 assists per set to be named All-GLIAC Honorable Mention.
Sophomore Anna Jonynas has been a strong two-way player this season, scoring 258 kills (2.35/set) and 56 service aces (0.51/set) while digging out 420 attacks (3.82/set). At the net, junior Emilia Widen (153 kills, 39 total blocks) and Rachel Ping (130 kills, 71 total blocks) along with Sherman (61 total blocks) have been crucial for the Huskies. Junior Kristine Fink has been a solid rotation option, scoring 14 service aces and digging out 159 attacks.
Lewis (25-7) finished as GLVC regular season champions and as semifinalists in the GLVC Tournament. The Flyers are led by senior Elizabeth Hyland, who was named GLVC Player of the Year and All-GLVC First Team. Hyland leads the team with 424 kills (3.66/set) and is second on the team with 408 digs (3.52/set). The Huskies must also be wary of All-GLVC Second Team selection Alexandre Preuss in service (29 aces, 0.29/set), while All-GLVC First Teammer Abby Becker is an accomplished setter for the Flyers. Defensively, Ronni Katarzynski (592 digs. 5.15/set) is the main defender for the Flyers, and All-GLVC Second Team selection Caroline Stefanon (128 total blocks, 1.14/set) will be a major factor in the frontcourt for Lewis.
"Lewis is a great program, has been for some time," Jennings says of his opponent. "They're very experienced in the postseason and they're a well-coached team."
This will be a rematch of the 2017 NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament, when the No. 8 seed Huskies were defeated 3-1 by the No. 1 seed Flyers in the first round. The first serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST. The winner of this match will face the winner of No. 1 Drury and No. 8 Hillsdale on Friday (Nov. 16).