HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – The Michigan Tech volleyball team improved to 19-4 overall and 11-1 in the GLIAC with a 3-0 win (25-12, 25-17, 25-18) over Lake Superior State inside the SDC Gym in their first home match in nearly a month. Tonight's win is the team's seventh sweep in GLIAC play and 11th overall this season, and it clinches a spot in the 2018 GLIAC Tournament for the Huskies.
"A nice 3-0 win at home felt good," Matt Jennings said following the win. "We slowed down a little towards the end, but we caught our rhythm and did what we needed to do to win the game, and that's all a coach can ask for."
The Huskies cruised to a 25-12 win in the first set. Sophomore Anna Jonynas got things going with a service ace to open the match as the Huskies scored the first three points of the frame. With the score at 6-4 in favor of Tech, the hosts rattled off six straight points to move ahead 12-4. The Lakers (5-18, 2-10 GLIAC) managed to bring the score to 13-9 with four straight points of their own, but the Husky attack and defense were too much as Tech allowed only four more points while closing out the with the final seven points of the stanza.
Seven of the first ten points in the second set belong to the Huskies early on as they once again asserted their control over the Lakers. The teams traded runs at points throughout the frame, but the Huskies closed out the set with four of the final six points to win 25-17. The Huskies finished the set with 16 kills, their most in any set in the match against the Lakers.
The Huskies jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the third set as many of the non-starters got some playing time. The early lead was in large part due to a five-point run behind the service of redshirt junior Mariel Leibovitz. Back-to-back three-point runs gave the Huskies a 15-5 lead through the midpoint before the Lakers made a run at extending the match an extra set with six of the next eight points. Tech widened its lead to 22-12 late in the action, and while the Lakers ran off six of the next seven points, an attack error on LSSU and a Jonynas kill won the Huskies the set and the match.
Jonynas continues to have a fine sophomore season, putting up 10 kills, 13 digs, four service aces, and a hitting percentage of .286 against the Lakers. Sophomore Olivia Ghormley led all players tonight with 15 kills, with 13 of those kills coming in the second and third sets, while sophomore Laura DeMarchi dished out 22 assists and dug out five Laker attacks in two sets of action. Leibovitz entered the match in the third set and tallied 12 assists and one dig. Junior Emilia Widen scored on seven of nine attack attempts with no errors for a rating of .778, the highest of the night.
Of the team's 59 total digs, sophomore Megan Utlak provided 15 of them. Following her was Jonynas with 13, and junior Kristine Fink and freshman Grace Novotny with 10 each. Junior Rachel Ping was very effective at the net, recording five of the team's 14 block assists.
Michigan Tech held a significant advantage over LSSU in all major statistical categories such as hitting percentage (.198 - .000), kills (40-19), assists (36-17), and service aces (8-1). Tech's best performance came in the first set, where they recorded 11 kills against 2 errors for a .300 hitting percentage, and limited the Lakers to a .030 hitting percentage and just seven kills against six errors.
"What's most important to us right now, as a team, is taking care of what's in front of us," Jennings said. "And that's playing the teams in front of us. We feel like we're good enough, and if we're playing good enough, that we can control the match."
The Huskies are back at it again on Saturday (Oct. 20) at 3 p.m. against Saginaw Valley State inside the SDC Gym. The Cardinals (16-7, 9-3 GLIAC), who lost 3-0 the last time these teams met in September, defeated Northern Michigan 3-2 Friday evening.