Tech volleyball loses to Lewis in NCAA opener
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. — The Michigan Tech Huskies made their ninth all-time appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament Thursday as the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region. The Huskies fell to the top-seeded Lewis Flyers 3-1 inside the Neil Carey Arena. Tech won set three 25-21 but fell 25-14 and 25-16 in the first two frames and 25-20 in the fourth.
“Lewis is a great team and they are very well-coached,” said Tech coach Matt Jennings. “They’re very experienced, very savvy and very hard to defend. I thought our girls fought hard here tonight, particularly in that third set. I’m very proud of this team.”
The Flyers (33-2) jumped off with a hot start leading 11-3 early in the first set. The Huskies responded to fight back with long rallies against the experienced Flyers. Senior Lauren Emmert stepped in to serve and shift the Huskies back into system, adding another three points to the score. Lewis pulled ahead for the victory, holding the Huskies to 14 points and scoring six of the final seven points. Mariah Sherman led Tech with three kills in the opening frame.
The Huskies (20-11) warmed up in the second set with a 3-0 lead to start. The two teams battled back and forth to a 14-all tie. From there, the home team took 11 of the final 14 points to win 25-16 and take a 2-0 lead heading into the break.
In the third set, Tech got behind early but came back to tie it at 11. A big swing from Sherman set the Huskies off to their largest lead of the match 16-14. Three consecutive attack errors from Lewis’s Alexandra Hyland positioned the Black and Gold to a 20-16 advantage. The Huskies prevailed to take set three 25-21, holding strong for a chance at the regional semifinal match.
Tied 7-7 in the fourth set, the Flyers sailed past the Huskies 11-7. Determined, Tech followed closely behind with Lewis leading 14-13. A service ace by Halie Hart shook Lewis out of system, and the Huskies scored three straight points to trail 22-19 late in the set. Lewis scored three of the final four points to secure the 25-20 and advance to the regional semifinal versus Ferris State.
“An experienced team like Lewis is going to make big plays late in the set, and I thought we really battled even at the end of that fourth set,” said Jennings. “It was just too little too late, and we fell short.”
The Flyers totaled 11 blocks against Tech and averaged a .266 attack percentage compared to the Huskies’ .159. Tech freshman Olivia Ghormley had a match-high 13 kills. MacAulay Petersen tallied nine kills, while Sherman and Emmert added seven each.
Freshman Laura DeMarchi set the offense with 32 assists and dug up 16 balls. Elle Heinonen chipped in seven assists and 20 digs, while senior Halie Hart had 10 digs and two aces.
“I feel pretty good about our season,” Jennings added. “I’m really proud of our team. They’re a great group of kids, and I’m going to miss our seniors so much for what they’ve done for our program and school. There is a lot of people back up in the U.P. who are very proud of us, and I’m really happy about that because we’ve come a long way.”
The Huskies wrap up the 2017 season with a GLIAC quarterfinal win over Tiffin, a semifinal win over Northern Michigan and an NCAA Appearance. Matt Jennings was named GLIAC Coach of the Year and Laura DeMarchi was named GLIAC Freshman and Setter of the Year. DeMarchi also earned All-GLIAC First Team Honors with Mariah Sherman. MacAulay Petersen was All-GLIAC Second Team and Elle Heinonen was Honorable Mention.
Thursday’s match was the final for seniors Stephanie Dietrich, Lauren Emmert, Halie Hart, and Elle Heinonen.