MTU Volleyball season closes with loss to tenth ranked Hillsdale

By  | 

ROMEOVILLE, Il. Michigan Tech had its 2019 volleyball season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to No. 10 Hillsdale in the NCAA Midwest Region Semifinal Friday (Dec. 6) at Neil Carey Arena on the campus of Lewis University. The 23rd ranked Huskies won the second set and battled through a thrilling fourth set before falling to the region's second-seeded Chargers.

"I think this is a weekend we're going to remember for a while," Tech coach Matt Jennings said. "I'm super proud to be the coach of this team, and I'm proud of the way we played. We never stopped fighting today. There's a lot of character and heart in this team.

"There's no shame in this loss. Hillsdale is a great team. They've been good not just this year but good for a very long time."

Hillsdale (28-3) took control late in the first set with an 8-1 run to take the early lead after a 25-19 win. There were 12 ties in the first, and Karoline Shelton set the tone with six kills for the Chargers.

Tech jumped out to early 4-1 and 12-7 leads in the second after quality serving by Kristine Fink and kills by MacAulay Petersen and Olivia Ghormley. Hillsdale rallied to tie it at 15 and take a 17-15 lead. The Huskies took 10 of the next 14 points to tie the match with a 25-21 win. Ghormley had five kills in the second and Petersen tallied her 1,000th career kill with the set clincher, becoming the ninth player in program history to reach the milestone.

The Chargers forced the Huskies into 12 attacking errors in the third and cruised to a 25-13 win despite the defensive efforts of Megan Utlak (eight digs) and Anna Jonynas (seven digs).

"When your season is on the line you find yourself coming together and just playing volleyball," Laura De Marchi said. "We wanted our season to end with something we were proud of."

The fourth set was one to remember. There were 13 ties and the Huskies held set point three times. Utlak was dominant in the backcourt with 12 digs in the fourth alone, and Petersen and Ghormley combined for 13 kills.

Hillsdale got a kill by Lindsey Mertz to tie it at 28 and then back-to-back kills by Megan Kolp to advance to the Regional Championship.

Ghormley had a match-high 19 kills and added 14 digs defensively for her 11th double-double of the season.

"I felt confident going in," Ghormley said. "We didn't have anything to lose. Laura did a good job spreading the ball around and our middles did a great job opening the seams."

Petersen added 15 kills and Courtney Kurkie tallied a season-high nine kills. Rachel Ping (eight kills, two blocks) and Emilia Widen (six kills) also chipped in offensively.

Laura De Marchi piled up 55 assists for her sixth 50-assist match of the season. She also added 11 digs, two kills, and a pair of service aces.

Utlak tied a career-high with 32 digs and Jonynas added 20 digs.

Friday's match was the last for seniors Kristine Fink, Courtney Kurkie, Rachel Ping, and Emilia Widen. All four were major contributing factors in the NCAA Tournament and all season long.

"It's a great group," said Jennings. "What a great way to end their careers. Now they'll be on to bigger and better things and they're going to make our school and program proud."

Tech finished the season with a 24-8 record, winning the most matches since 1996.