Michigan Tech advances in NCAA Volleyball Tournament with close win over Wayne State

Jonynas, Ghormley combine for 36 kills
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 3:44 PM EST
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BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WLUC) - No. 20 Michigan Tech advanced to the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal for the second straight tournament with a 3-2 victory over Wayne State Thursday at Jim Wink Arena on the campus of Ferris State. The Huskies won 25-16, 25-20, 18-25, 19-25, and 15-8 to improve to 25-6 overall. Tech will play either Hillsdale or Grand Valley State Friday at 5 p.m.

“It was a barn burner,” Tech coach Matt Jennings said. “Congrats to Wayne and Coach Tim on an excellent season. They have a lot to be proud of—as do we. We haven’t had a great track record in the fifth set and for us to play like we did and pull it out is nice. It’s a veteran team, a senior-led team, and with those players out there working for us, anything is possible.”

Five of Tech’s six losses this season have been in five sets. The Huskies picked a perfect time to change that narrative. Tied at five in the fifth, the Black and Gold went on a 7-0 run to take a commanding lead. Olivia Ghormley had three kills in the final set and GLIAC Player of the Year Anna Jonynas pounded down seven kills, including the match-clinching point.

The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match. They overcame a slow start in the first set. There were 10 early ties before the Huskies used a 5-0 run to take a 14-10 lead. They then closed the set on a 6-1 run to win 25-16 and take the lead. Jillian Kuizenga and Anna Jonynas each had four kills in the first.

Tech built a 9-3 advantage in the second set and never trailed. Olivia Ghormley had back-to-back kills to get it to setpoint, and Laura De Marchi notched the final point with a kill. Carissa Beyer was a rock defensively with 14 digs in the set. Ghormley finished with six kills and Morgan Radtke added five.

WSU (20-9) won the next two sets. The Warriors built a 6-1 lead in the third and never trailed. Tech fought back to tie the set twice but the No. 7 seed held on for a 25-18 win. WSU had three blocks in the third and Lauren VanderWal tallied four kills.

The Warriors tied the match after a 25-19 win in the fourth. VanderWal had five kills in and WSU hit .519 in the fourth. Morgan Radtke had five kills on the other side of the net for the Huskies.

“We’re a really veteran team,” Jonynas said. “We’ve been in that situation many times before. We knew we just needed to trust ourselves and trust our teammates to push through in that fifth set.”

Laura De Marchi set the GLIAC career assist record, eclipsing Kristy Kale’s record of 5,441 assists from 1997-2000 for Grand Valley State. De Marchi, the AVCA Midwest Regional Player of the Year, finished the match with 45 assists, eight digs, seven kills, two solo blocks, and a service ace.

Anna Jonynas tallied a match-high 21 kills while adding nine digs, and six assists. Olivia Ghormley recorded 15 kills, and Radtke finished with 13 kills while hitting .600. Jillian Kuizenga (9 kills) and Kaycee Meiners (6 kills) also chipped in offensively.

Beyer racked up 28 digs, hitting the 20-dig mark for the sixth time this season, and finished one short of a career-high. Megan Utlak and Grace Novotny combined for 10 digs.

“We’ve had some good teams here recently, but there’s something special about this group right now,” added Jennings. “Anyone can beat anyone at this stage and we know that. We’re going to take a deep breath, rest, study our next opponent, and get after it again tomorrow.”

Friday’s match can be streamed for free at First serve is set for 5 p.m. in the first regional semifinal. The other semifinal is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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