HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech volleyball team is coming off its first conference weekend sweep since 2009, but now the Huskies face possibly their toughest weekend of the year when they head to the road for the final time in 2012, followed a few days later by a rematch against their arch rival.
Tech (9-15, 4-7 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) left at 12:30 today for Friday and Saturday matches at Ferris State (17-5, 10-1 GLIAC) and Grand Valley State (18-4, 8-3 GLIAC), respectively.
"Going into the (GLIAC/GLVC) Crossover we talked about hitting the reset button. Since then we're 4-3, we've won four of our last five matches and we're statistically improving in every way," Tech coach Matt Jennings said. "Going into this weekend, we're hoping to remain confident."
Michigan Tech’s Shelby Jones goes to the floor to dig a ball during Friday’s home match against Tiffin at the SDC?Gym. Tech is at Ferris State and Grand Valley State this weekend. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
But the Huskies also know the challenge ahead of them.
First up is Ferris State, which has been nationally ranked for most of the season.
"They're as disciplined of a team as I've seen in a while on film," Jennings said. "They do all the little things very well. They follow their gameplan extraordinarily well and they have good athletes."
The Bulldogs lead the GLIAC in hitting percentage at .251 - led by GLIAC-leading hitter Anne Sutton (.398) - compared to Tech's third-worst .133.
Like any team, though, Ferris has its vulnerabilities, and Jennings said the biggest one is defending the right side attack, which just so happens to be Tech's recent strength with freshman Sylvie Rokosh.
Speaking of Rokosh, Jennings could have sworn her 37-kill weekend would garner her GLIAC Player of the Week honors but then he saw GVSU's Eno Umoh's stat line.
In last weekend's 2-0 road trip, the Laker senior hit .452 and tallied 11 blocks, averaging 4.33 points, 3.00 kills and 1.83 blocks per set. That's Umoh's second consecutive player of the week honor, and her recent strong play is just a microcosm of the recent run GVSU has been on. The Lakers have won nine straight matches, including 15 straight sets.
"Grand Valley, they're hot right now," summed up Jennings. "They've been playing their best volleyball over the last three weeks."
They're deep, disciplined and aggressive. It'll be a tough uphill battle for the Huskies, but at the very least Tech wants to carry some momentum into a Tuesday home match against Northern Michigan, which Tech lost to 3-0 in Marquette in embarrassing fashion.
"We're just trying not to look past this weekend, but everyone on this team and around the athletic department and around us are thinking about it," Jennings said. "Since two days after that debacle in Marquette, we've looked at that match as an opportunity to redeem ourselves and prove to that team who we are."
Starting with the 7 p.m. Tuesday match against NMU, Tech ends the regular season with five straight home matches, and the Huskies still have a chance at reaching the GLIAC Tournament.