Huskies split opening day of NMU VB tourney

MARQUETTE – Freshmen outside hitters factored heavily in the Michigan Tech volleyball team’s day at the Wildcat Superior Oasis Open. The Huskies split their two matches on day one of the two-day event with a 3-1 loss to Quincy and a 3-0 non-conference victory over Lake Superior State.

Tech faced Great Lakes Valley Conference opponent Quincy in both teams’ opening match of the weekend. The Huskies battled to a 29-27 win in the first, putting it away on their fifth set point on a Hawks error. Rookie Kendall Ward posted five kills in the frame including two down the stretch to help the Black and Gold.

QU came back with 25-20 and 25-18 wins in the second and third sets, respectively. Set four saw Quincy lead by as many as four points before the Huskies came back to knot the score at 24-all. A pair of Hawks kills put it away.

Ward, who sat out last weekend with injury, finished with a team-high 16 kills and .256 hitting percentage in her first collegiate match. Fellow freshman outside hitter Aubrey Ficek chipped in a double-double with 11 kills and 14 digs.

The Huskies bounced back in a big way in match two, sweeping Lake Superior State in three sets. The Lakers led 10-6 in the first set before the Tech put together a 14-5 run to seize control en route to a 25-21 win.

Set two was deadlocked at 16-all before Andria Nyenhuis served six consecutive times and had the Huskies up 22-16. A kill from Kienna Sharp sealed the deal with a 25-19 score.

Ficek dominated set three with seven kills. Tech hit .256 as a team and cruised to a 25-17 victory.

Ficek led a balanced team attack with 11 kills to go with 13 digs. Sharp (eight kills), Ward (seven) and Sylvie Rokosh (six) also figured into the offense. Madeline Haben dished out 35 assists in the match to give her 76 on the day.

“It was a pretty good day overall,” said Tech coach Matt Jennings. “Kendall had an absolutely fantastic start to her career even though we didn’t have a balanced match in the morning. We saw a lot more of a team effort in the second match, and I like the way our young squad is coming together.”

Michigan Tech improved to 2-4 with the day’s results. The Huskies will play two more matches as part of the six-team event today: Bemidji State at 9 a.m. and Minnesota-Crookston at 1 p.m.