DULUTH, Minn. – The Michigan Tech volleyball team dropped a 3-1 afternoon match against No. 5 St. Cloud State Friday (Sept. 8) at the Up North Tournament hosted by Minnesota Duluth. Tech won the first set 25-23 before SCSU closed 25-16, 25-17, and 25-21.
“Just like last night we absolutely battled with one of the country’s best teams,” Tech coach Matt Jennings said. “And again, we showed that we have the goods to play with anyone. This team is so confident right now, and more importantly, they understand what is happening in this early-season schedule. We’ve been in each and every match this year, having dominated the only unranked team we’ve faced, gone five with two NCAA caliber teams, and more than held our own in each match against No. 2, No. 5, and No. 7, all while down two returning starters and featuring five or more newcomers.”
The Black and Gold battled through 10 ties and three lead changes to hand the Minnesota Huskies only their second set loss on the season. Tech had five blocks in the opening frame and hit .375. Lindy Oujiri had five kills while freshmen Kate Loch and Rachel Zurek combined for six kills.
“Taking set one the way we did tonight was important because we talked about the next step for us being to close out close sets after 20 against top teams,” added Jennings. “We did that today in a really impressive way to start. We continue to take important steps forward in these matches, even if we fell short of our ultimate goal. We won’t lose that perspective and we understand that this is prepping us for GLIAC play next week and beyond.”
SCSU used a 9-1 run midway through the second to take a six-point lead and tied the match after scoring six of the final seven points. Shelby Kimm had six kills for SCSU as the team hit .303.
The Black and Red broke an 11-all tie in the third with an 11-2 run to take command. Zurek and Loch again combined for six kills for Tech, and Sam Zimmerman had eight kills on the other side of the net.
SCSU never trailed in the fourth set but Tech made it close down the stretch after a 5-1 run fueled by a pair of kills by Lindy Oujiri and a block by Rachel Zurek and Tess Hayes. The nation’s fifth-ranked team won its seventh-straight match with a 5-2 run down the stretch with three points by Shelby Kimm. Kate Loch and Lindy Oujiri each had five kills for Tech in the fourth.
Kate Loch played a huge role in her first action, leading Tech with 15 kills. Lindy Oujiri hit double figures for the fifth time this season with 14 kills, while Rachel Zurek and Kaycee Meiners each added six. Tess Hayes set the attack with 38 assists and added nine digs. Alayna Corwin registered 12 digs and Amelia Albers added nine.
“At one point today, we had six freshmen on the court at once,” Jennings said. “Kate Loch had quite an ideal college debut in this one, leading us in kills and points, taking big cuts all match. Lindy and Kaycee have really stepped up in their on-court leadership role. Lindy was clutch again to see her play so confidently is a real treat.
“We’ll need to outgrow some of the mistakes we’ve made at times out there if we want to get where we want to go. I like our matchups tomorrow and am excited to see us finish this tournament strong.”
Tech wraps up the weekend on Saturday against Southern New Hampshire at 10:30 a.m. and No. 23 Central Washington at 6 p.m.