Tech volleyball splits a second time

MARQUETTE – For the third straight day of competition for the Michigan Tech volleyball team the result was a split. The Huskies closed out last weekend’s Winona State Tournament that way and went 1-1 yesterday as well. Saturday, Tech defeated Bemidji State 3-0 and fell to Minnesota-Crookston 3-0 at the Wildcat Superior Oasis Open.

“To say that we seemed liked two different teams today would be an understatement,” said Tech coach Matt Jennings. “We were operating on all gears for the vast majority of the morning match, then came out flat and unfocused in the afternoon.”

In today’s opener, Tech dispatched Bemidji State in three sets. Scores in the first and second were identical at 25-16. Tech used a 9-2 run midway through the first and were bolstered by five kills from Kendall Ward in the frame. The Huskies cruised to the second set win as well.

Set three saw Bemidji with two set points at 24-23 and 25-24. Sylvie Rokosh had the answer both times with kills. The Huskies won the final three points of the set to claim the 27-25 win and match victory.

Ward and Aubrey Ficek tied for match-high honors in kills with 11. Ficek hit a team-best .333 percent and added three service aces. Rokosh finished with seven kills. Setter Madeline Haben had match highs of 33 assists and 14 digs.

“Sets one and two were excellent and I was extremely pleased with the consistency with which we executed and the aggressive nature of our attack and serving,” said Jennings. “The third was a grind, and it was clear Bemidji State was going to make a late push to extend the match. I thought it was very important that we finish in three and am glad the team found ways to hang on and make it happen.”

Tech’s final match of the weekend came just hours after finishing the Bemidji State match. Crookston earned the win in three sets.

The first saw Tech within 20-19 before the Golden Eagles scored three straight and went on to the 25-22 win. Three kills by Rokosh late in the second set were not enough to pull the Huskies all the way back before UMC won 25-22. A couple of four-point streaks for Crookston in the third set were the difference in a 25-18 final.

“Without taking away anything from UM-Crookston, who is a physical and disciplined team, we did not do much of anything that would’ve put us in a position to be successful. We really looked our age in this one and it just seemed like we didn’t have anything left in the tank. We came out a bit on edge, and couldn’t ever find a way to shake it. It led to some mental mistakes and uncharacteristic errors that really hurt us,” said Jennings.

Rokosh finished with a team-high eight kills. Jacqueline Aird and Haben both reached double figures in digs. Aird had a match-high 17.

Michigan Tech will play one more non-conference match next week before opening conference play at home Friday. The Huskies travel to No. 2-ranked Minnesota Duluth Tuesday for an 8 p.m. (ET) match.