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Huskies volleyball splits weekend to close out regular season

SAULT STE. MARIE — The Michigan Tech Huskies volleyball team earned a key win on Friday night, defeating the No. 20 Ferris State Bulldogs in Big Rapids for the first time in 14 years. They followed that effort up Saturday with a five-set loss to the Lake Superior State Lakers.

Despite the split, the Huskies finished fourth in the GLIAC standings and will host Northern Michigan in a GLIAC quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

HUSKIES TOPPLE BULLDOGS FRIDAY

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — The Huskies stormed back from a 2-0 deficit for a key 3-2 GLIAC victory at Ferris State Friday. The Huskies won 15-25, 23-25, 25-22, 26-24, and 15-12 to hand the Bulldogs their first home GLIAC loss of the season and pick up the first victory in Big Rapids in 14 years.

“What a great comeback for our Huskies,” Huskies coach Matt Jennings said after his first win in Big Rapids. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group than I am right now, especially the way we fought back into the match. Ferris is a good team that doesn’t lose a lot at home. For us to be down two sets and on their court and win is a testament to our team’s character and unwillingness to quit.

“We talked a lot about not giving up when we are not at our best this week in practice and that in a match if we keep at it and keep it close, you’ll have a chance to come around and make a difference in the end. It felt that way here today. We started off slow and sloppy, but by the end, we were making big plays and had a good team on their heels.”

Trailing 2-0 after a tight second set, the Huskies battled through seven ties in the third and led by as many as three. The home team used a 5-1 run to take a 21-20 lead. The teams then traded points and before Tech went on a 4-0 run to get on the board. Meg Raabe had a pair of kills in the final run combined with a pair of errors by the Bulldogs.

Tech tied the match in extra points in the fourth. Tech held setpoint before the Bulldogs extended it. A service error put the Huskies back on top, and then Kaycee Meiners pounded down a kill to send it to a fifth set.

The Huskies went on a 6-1 run in the fifth set to take a 9-5 lead. The home team responded with a 5-1 rally and then cut it down to a one-point match at 13-12. Tess Hayes had a kill for match point, and Meiners finished off the win with a shot that sailed off a defender to the back wall.

The Huskies had a balanced offensive attack with Raabe (15), Rachel Zurek (14), and Meiners (11) hitting double figures in kills. Hayes hit 50 assists for the sixth time this season, setting 51 kills to surpass 1,000 assists in her freshman season. She added 10 digs for the double-double.

Amelia Albers (16), Alayna Corwin (15), and Brook Dzwik (15) also had double-digit digs. Meiners (1 solo, 3 block assists), Zurek (1BS, 2 BA), Tricia Kennedy (3 BA), and Lindy Oujiri (2BA) were all a major force on the block.

“Rachel and Kaycee were fabulous tonight,” Jennings said. “When we were able to get them the ball, we were really tough to beat. Rachel was really rolling all match on the attack and Kaycee was just as steady as ever, particularly in the final three sets. Lindy really dug deep in this one and played a gutsy five sets on a bum ankle. We don’t win without that leadership.”

Ferris hit .324 in the first set and used an 11-3 run to take command of the opening frame.

The Huskies led for most of the second before the Bulldogs closed on a 5-1 run to take a 2-0 lead at the break.

HUSKIES FALL TO LAKERS SATURDAY

The Huskies fell 3-2 at Lake Superior State in the regular season finale on Saturday. The Lakers won the first set, and the teams traded sets from there with the home team winning 15-8 in the fifth.

With the win, LSSU also got into the postseason as the No. 8 seed and will travel to top-seed Grand Valley State.

“This weekend pretty well encapsulated this whole season,” Jennings said. “We reverse sweep a nationally-ranked team on the road and come out and drop the ball against a team fighting to make the conference tournament. Credit to Coach Zach and his team. They played very well and scored a ton of points against us. We could not stop them when we needed to and came out sluggish for reasons I’m not sure of.”

LSSU led for most of the first set and out-killed the Huskies 17-11 in a 25-19 win. Five different Lakers had at least a pair of kills. Raabe had five kills for Tech.

The Huskies tied it up in the second 25-23. Tech never trailed and got six kills from Raabe and four from Oujiri.

The Lakers built an eight-point lead in the third. The Huskies held off three setpoints before Emilee McDaniel finally put it away for a 25-22 win for the home team. Raabe and Oujiri combined for 13 kills.

The Black and Gold forced a fifth set after forcing the Lakers into 10 errors with five blocks. LSSU had five straight attacking errors early in the set and Oujiri put down the final two points for a 25-18 tech win.

There were three early ties in the fifth set before the Lakers separated with a 4-0 run and then closed on a 6-1 run to take the win.

Raabe tallied a match-high 26 kills and added 13 digs and five block assists. Oujiri added 15 kills while Meiners notched six kills, eight block assists, and three solo blocks.

Hayes set the attack with 50 assists and added 12 digs. Albers (19), Corwin (16), and Dzwik (14) also had double-digit digs.

GLIAC TOURNAMENT MATCHUPS

Other first-round GLIAC matchups are No. 7 Purdue Northwest at No. 2 Ferris State and No. 6 Davenport at No. 3 Parkside.

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