HOUGHTON — To say the Keweenaw Traditional didn’t go the way in which the Michigan Tech Huskies volleyball staff wished it to go can be an understatement.
Huskies coach Matt Jennings mentioned the aim was to go 4-0 in opposition to competitors together with three nationally ranked opponents from Minnesota.
However that was a lofty aim.
Of the three losses the Huskies suffered, the worst was a five-set loss to Minnesota State on Friday morning. The hosts received the primary set handily at 25-18, however had been shut down over the subsequent two units, forcing them to battle for a fourth set victory to be able to pressure a fifth and deciding set.
“Good groups are gonna play effectively, in any atmosphere,” Jennings mentioned. “The problem in and of itself was taking part in 4 good groups, three distinctive groups, in the identical weekend to start the season. So did I count on to go 4-0, I didn’t. We wished to, however that’d be a tricky ask there.
“Contemplating every part that occurred on the weekend and the place we had been, there’s a whole lot of good to take a look at there.”
Whereas the final three matches weren’t what the Huskies wished, there have been some good issues that got here out of the weekend.
The three-day weekend noticed the Huskies knock off No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth on Thursday night time to open the event in straight units. They did open the match on Friday in opposition to the Mavericks with a win. They then fought again as soon as the Mavericks took a 2-1 lead in units.
Friday night time, they fought exhausting in a see-saw battle in opposition to No. 16 St. Cloud State. They received the primary set, misplaced the second, received the third earlier than shedding the fourth and fifth units. They didn’t go quietly in both set, regardless of shedding fifth-year setter Laura De Marchi to harm within the fourth set when she took a spiked ball within the face.
“Instantly, your concern goes to, like, how is Laura? Is she okay?” Jennings mentioned. “That was a shot. You already know, it’s a part of the sport. I feel that provides, really, to what made the general effort there one which we might be pleased with. We managed to maintain that match shut when she goes down. I imply, you may hear a pin drop in there when that occurred. For our staff to remain, to remain targeted, and to proceed to experience was, I feel, fairly spectacular.”
They fought the No. 2 Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears exhausting after dropping the primary set and regardless of a disappointing efficiency from fifth-year outdoors hitter Olivia Ghormley, who appeared, as Jennings described it, fatigued in that fourth match.
The Golden Bears had solutions for almost every part that De Marchi’s substitute, senior setter Lina Espejo-Ramirez tried after she stung them early with a dumped ball over the web.
It was a studying expertise for the Huskies to see among the most constant prime groups within the nation over current years. From Jennings’ perspective, he felt the staff realized loads about the kind of effort they’re going to want night time in and night time out to achieve success.
“The distinction of Concordia, general, in comparison with different groups, are these little factors,” he mentioned. You go to the Concordia recreation, and Lina dumps on them one time early, after which by no means once more. They didn’t let it occur once more. They had been on her each time.
“It’s the self corrections that a few of these groups make. I feel that’s what we’re trying to get to be.”
Two vivid spots offensively for the Huskies had been sophomore outdoors hitter Jillian Kuizenga, whose blocking recreation nonetheless wants work, and sophomore outdoors hitter Lindy Oujiri, who stepped in in opposition to the Golden Bears and picked up 5 kills within the third set when the staff wanted a spark.
Jennings likes the place Kuizenga’s offensive recreation is at as she sits second solely to fifth-year outdoors hitter Anna Jonynas with 50 kills on the season.
“Jill, from an offensive perspective, has come a great distance,” Jennings mentioned. “That’s a motive that she was an All-Convention choose final yr. She continues to enhance. As she turns into, and has grow to be, extra constant, our offense does as effectively.”
Jennings additionally feels that Oujiri is working exhausting to make herself an possibility when the staff wants one thing additional, and that’s thrilling for her coach.
“Lindy will probably be a giant a part of what we’re doing going ahead,” Jennings mentioned. “She must proceed to be ready to return in and play some powerful minutes for us and a few powerful factors for us as she needed to over the weekend.
“Proper now, she’s received the products. It’s all about protecting her confidence and her approaching each play with confidence. When she does that, she’s a whole lot of enjoyable to look at.”
The Huskies head out on the highway to participate within the Illinois-Springfield Invitational this weekend. They open with McKendree at 11 a.m. Friday earlier than going through No. 8 Northwest Missouri State at 5 p.m. On Saturday, they’ll face a former GLIAC opponent, Lake Erie, at 11 a.m. earlier than going through the hosts at 8 p.m.
The event will probably be a superb check for the Huskies regardless of not having the general high quality of opponents they noticed this previous weekend. Jennings feels his staff nonetheless has some bugs of their system to work out, and this weekend will present a superb alternative to see if their exhausting work in apply this week pays off.