HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech volleyball team will fall short of a berth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, but one thing the Huskies are not short on is confidence after a 3-2 win over Hillsdale (now 15-12, 11-5 GLIAC) last Saturday.
"It gives us a lot of confidence and it should definitely show the rest of the teams in the conference what we're all about, and going into our last weekend we just know we can do it and carry that confidence over," said sophomore outside hitter Shelby Jones, who tallied 37 kills in two matches last weekend.
Now the Huskies (10-19, 5-11 GLIAC) are ready to carry that confidence into their final two matches of the season this weekend at home against Lake Superior State (4-23, 1-15 GLIAC) and Saginaw Valley State (11-17, 6-10 GLIAC).
Michigan Tech’s Madeline Haben sets the ball for teammate Kienna Sharp during Saturday’s GLIAC?volleyball match against Hillsdale. The Huskies conclude their season this weekend with home matches against Lake Superior State tonight and Saginaw Valley State Saturday. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"We're excited, but a little sad that it's ending," Tech first-year coach Matt Jennings said. "It's been an adventurous season to say the least. We've had our ups and our downs and everything in between, but definitely happy with the progress we've made and hoping that we can end on a high note and pick up where we left off on Saturday."
Relative to last year's 2-25 overall and 0-19 GLIAC record - which included an 0-11 record at home - it's been a successful year, and the Huskies actually have a chance to finish with a winning record (5-4) at home with a sweep this weekend.
On paper, the chances are reasonably high of that happening.
Tech beat tonight's 7 p.m. opponent Lake Superior State 3-1 (25-23, 25-13, 23-25, 25-22) on Sept. 14 in Sault Ste. Marie, though Jennings warns they are an improved team.
The Lakers' 12 straight losses doesn't bear that out well, but LSSU did take 22-5 Grand Valley State to a 28-26 set, and 20-6 Ferris State to a pair of 25-22 sets in their last two matches, both 3-0 losses.
"I've been watching plenty of film this week and following them like I do every other team and their record doesn't reflect the progress they've made," Jennings said.
Saginaw Valley, on the other hand, Saturday's 1 p.m. opponent, beat the Huskies 3-1 (25-18, 25-20, 27-25, 25-21) on Sept. 15, and Tech wants revenge, badly.
"This is not just me, this is the team, too: We look back at some of those games and pick some that we'd like to have again and Saginaw was definitely one of them," Jennings said. "Not taking anything away from their abilities - they're a good team - but we did not play our game against them, especially compared to the way we've been playing the last three weeks."
The key this weekend in both matches will be consistency and finishing strong. Even during last weekend's impressive showing Tech was at its best late in the Northwood match, but it dug a hole too deep to overcome. Then against Hillsdale the Huskies stormed out to a 2-0 lead before allowing the Chargers to force a decisive fifth set.
"We want to play as consistently as possible and I think that confidence is a huge ingredient in that," Jennings said. "I'd like to see them play with the most confidence they've played with all year this weekend, and if they can do that, I think we can find a little more consistency."