College Volleyball: Huskies bounce back, beat Northwood 3-1
HOUGHTON — After an emotional 3-2 loss to the No. 19 Ferris State Bulldogs on Friday, the No. 20 Michigan Tech Huskies had little time to digest that loss before facing the Northwood Timberwolves for the second time this season. In their earlier meeting, the Timberwolves won the first set before the Huskies stormed back, winning the next three.
Saturday, at the Wood Gym, the Huskies again found themselves down after the first set, but battled back to win in four, 27-29, 25-20, 25-9 and 25-19.
Huskies coach Matt Jennings was proud of his team for bouncing back the way they did.
“Every match at this point in the season is important for us and that is a Northwood team that clearly can sneak up on you and beat you,” said Huskies coach Matt Jennings. “That’s what they did in the first set. We had a big lead and kind of got got a little slow and slowed down a little bit and they caught fire. (It was) very important to come back with a win, especially on Senior Night (and) especially after the loss last night. At this point in the season, every one counts. I’m glad that we pulled it out.”
The Huskies (20-5 overall, 12-2 GLIAC) started Saturday’s match the way they wanted to, jumping out to an 11-3 lead in the opening set. That lead was whittled down until the Timberwolves finally evened things at 24-24. From there, things did not go the way the hosts wanted.
“I think we got too comfortable with how we were playing and that’s never, never satisfying,” she said. “We always have to continue to push points. Coach always says great teams finish at the end of the set. We just weren’t able to do that.”
Ghormley, who finished with a match-high 24 kills and two aces, and her teammates turned to their four seniors for motivation as they wanted to send them off with a win in their final regular season match at home.
“It’s awesome and I’m so happy for them,” Ghormley said. “They’ve done so much over the past four years, so I’m really glad that we were able to get this one.”
Senior middle Rachel Ping had a strong start to the match with three of her seven kills on the night in the opening set. She hit .353 for the match.
Ping was happy to help her teammates rally after the end of the first set.
“I think for us, it was kind of coming back to what we set as focus, play the volleyball that we know how to play, and just kind of take care of our game plan,” said Ping. “Back to the basics, take care of good first touch, quality touch on the ball. I think in responding to their more aggressive plays, (we were) keeping them more out of system with our serving. I think that’s kind of what gave us the advantage towards the end of that (second) set.”
In the second set, junior setter Laura De Marchi was able to start spreading the ball around. With as many options as the Huskies have, she was also able to surprise the Timberwolves (5-21 overall, 5-10 GLIAC) with three of her four kills in the match in that second set.
In the third set, the Huskies got themselves in system. They hit .321 for the set as Ghormley came up with timely kills to help the Huskies force the Timberwolves into a number of mistakes.
“I thought our first touches needed to be better,” said Jennings. “I thought that happened as the match went on. I thought our attacking really was strong in that third set especially.
“This is a team knows what’s going on. It’s nice to have a team that really knows and understands what they’re doing. I thought they responded the right way.”
Ghormley racked up eight more kills in the fourth set as she took control of the match for stretches, creating mismatches Northwood could not defend.
“Olivia is one heck of a player and we would not be where we are without her,” Jennings said. “When she gets going, she’s tough to beat. I thought both Laura and Bri(ana Sharkey) did a good job finding her. She’s as positive and as pleasant a player and a teammate you’re going to find and she’s really always trying to give as much to the team “
Dozens of wins
With the win, the Huskies have guaranteed that they will finish with at least 12 wins in GLIAC play for the third straight season. The last time they had more than two seasons in a row with 12 or more conference wins was a stretch from 1993-97 under the tutelage of Mary Kaminski and Alan Segal.
The Huskies have one more road trip in the regular season. This Friday and Saturday, they face Lake Superior State and Saginaw Valley State, respectively.
The Lakers are 8-17 overall this season and 2-12 in GLIAC play, but did beat Northern Michigan in Marquette. The Cardinals are 18-7 overall and 10-4 in GLIAC play, including wins over Ferris State and Ashland.