BIG RAPIDS, Mi. Michigan Tech saw its run in the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament come to an unfortunate end as the second-seed Huskies were defeated 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 16-25, 25-23, 11-15) by sixth-seed Davenport in the semifinal round inside the Ewigleben Arena on the campus of Ferris State University Friday night.
"We were inconsistent on offense and behind the service line in this one and it really kept them in the game," said Head Coach Matt Jennings. "I was proud of the way we fought back, but ultimately we made too many mistakes throughout the match, particularly in crunch time."
The Huskies (23-6) led 9-4 early in the first set thanks to a pair of four-point runs before Davenport (17-13) could respond with a four-point run of their own, forcing the Huskies into a timeout with the score at 9-8. The Panthers kept their run going and were soon up 11-10 on Tech before they could end the run. Davenport continued to control the tempo and took a 19-16 lead late in the action until Michigan Tech rallied for five straight points, with three of them coming from the hand of senior Mariah Sherman, to lead 21-18. Tech closed out the set with three straight points to take a 1-0 lead in the match over the Panthers.
Tech fell behind early in the second set before tying the score at 6-6. The momentum swung behind Davenport as they scored five straight points to force Michigan Tech into calling timeout, and they widened their lead 10 at 14-8 following a three-point spree. Davenport's lead grew to 22-16 late when the Black and Gold rallied for five straight points to bring the score to 22-21. Unfortunately, Davenport broke their run with three unanswered points to take the second set and tie the match at 1-1.
The teams traded the lead in the early moments of the third set, with neither side able to grab control of the game. Davenport scored four straight points after Tech tied the score, leading 14-8 midway through the frame. Down 18-12, Tech rallied for four of the next five points to put themselves within three points of the Panthers. However, following a Davenport timeout, the Panthers clinched the third set with six unanswered points, giving themselves a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Michigan Tech built an 8-3 lead early in the fourth set, but it was quickly whittled away by the Panthers before they took a 15-12 edge. Tech dug deep and rallied for four straight points to hold a narrow one-point lead. Michigan Tech did everything they could to hold off Davenport, although they trailed 23-22 late in the action. A kill by sophomore Olivia Ghormley tied the score up, and the Huskies scored two more points to take the set, with Sherman slamming home the final point, evening the match at 2-2 and bringing it to the fifth set.
Tech pulled ahead 5-2 in the beginning of the fifth set, but Davenport tied the score before the teams traded points back-and-forth. MIchigan Tech brought an 8-7 lead into the second half of the set following a Ghormley. The Huskies briefly lost the lead before tying it up at 10-10. Tech tied the score at 11-11 with a kill from sophomore Megan Utlak, but Davenport went on a run of four points to win the set and eliminate the Huskies from the GLIAC Tournament.
Ping stood out among the Michigan Tech players, finishing with a career-high 12 kills and hitting .370 while tallying three block assists. Sherman was a major force on offense for the Huskies with 20 kills and hitting .228, while adding four total blocks in the contest. Sophomore Laura DeMarchi dished out 45 assists and dug 15 attacks, and sophomore Anna Jonynas led the team with 23 digs. Junior Kristine Fink played a big role coming off the bench with 22 digs, a personal-best for the defensive specialist.
"Rachel and Kristine both deserve some props for stepping up tonight. They were excellent," said Jennings. "Mariah seemed to carry our offense for long stretches and came up with some big blocks for us as well."
The Huskies were undone by errors, as they committed 33 errors while only forcing 26 from the Panthers. Michigan Tech out-killed Davenport 61-50 and out-dug them 95-93, but were outhit .130 - .140 and were significantly out-blocked 22-12.
"Credit to Davenport for playing a good match," Jennings continued. "They're playing very well here in the tournament and simply outplayed us tonight."
With their competition in the GLIAC Tournament concluded, the Huskies will learn whether they will continue their season on Sunday (Nov. 11) during the NCAA Selection Show at 10 p.m. The Huskies were ranked fourth in the Midwest region in Wednesday's NCAA Regional Rankings.