Huskies volleyball sweeps NMU, wins 7th straight
HOUGHTON — The outcome of Saturday afternoon’s rivalry matchup between the Michigan Tech Huskies volleyball team and their U.P. rivals, the Northern Michigan Wildcats, appeared to be in doubt after the first set ended in the Huskies’ favor, 27-25.
That doubt was quickly squashed in the second set as the Huskies (12-4, 7-1 GLIAC) spread their offense around and cruised to a 25-13 win. They followed that up with a 25-18 third set to seal their seventh straight victory and 12th of 13 matches.
As head coach Matt Jennings said after the match, the Huskies did seem to struggle a bit out of the gate. He chalked up the slow start to the team needing to find its groove, which it found by the second set.
“I gave the team a lot of credit both after the end of that set, and in the locker room, I was really proud of the poise that they showed there in that first set,” he said. “(It) never really felt like we had lost control. We just were a little slow coming to it. I don’t think they were doing anything that needed any adjustment made. We just needed to get in our groove.
“Two weekends in a row, now, we’ve proven that, when our backs are against the wall a little bit, we just stay poised and good things can happen.”
The Huskies hit .632 in that second set, separating themselves from the Wildcats by never allowing the visitors to get any momentum started.
“I think that, once everyone starts clicking on all cylinders, I feel like it’s easy for us just to get on a roll, and for all of us just to get on one page,” said outside hitter Anna Jonynas.
Jonynas, a fifth year starter, finished her night with a match-high 16 kills and one service ace. The AVCA National Player of the Week also had 10 digs on the night.
Jonynas feels that the Huskies have a lot of depth they can throw at opponents now that they can feature any of three outside hitters on the left side in fifth year Olivia Ghormley, sophomore Lindy Oujiri, or herself. The Huskies also get a lot of offense from sophomore right side hitter Jillian Kuizenga, who had 11 kills Saturday, and middle blockers Janie Grindland, a senior, and Kaycee Meiners, a sophomore.
“We wouldn’t be a good team without everybody doing their job,” said Jonynas. “I think it helps each hitter when everybody is also on the same page in that regard.”
The Huskies held the Wildcats to a .171 hitting percentage through the first two sets before continuing to press their advantage in the third set.
Kuizenga, who picked up the bulk of her kills in the third set, felt that the team has worked hard to take control of matches, forcing opponents to respond to what they are doing, rather than the other way around. She feels that comes from the way the team has grown together.
“I think it’s all because we have each other’s backs,” she said. “We know the flow of everything. We know that we are all there for each other. If something does go haywire, we know that everyone’s got the next one.
“I think it’s just the very supportive atmosphere that we kind of create on the court out there.”
With the win, the Huskies now hold the best record in the GLIAC at 7-1 in conference play. They will head back out on the road this weekend to Hammond, Indiana, to take part in the Regional Crossover, playing three matches over the course of the weekend.