SEASIDE, Calif. – The No. 23-ranked Michigan Tech volleyball team kicked off the 2022 season with a pair of sweeps at the Otter Invitational on the campus of Cal State Monterey Bay Friday (Aug. 26). The Huskies defeated Cal Poly Pomona in the morning and swept Academy of Art in the afternoon.
Michigan Tech 3, Cal Poly Pomona 0
The Huskies defeated the Broncos 25-23, 25-23, and 25-21 to begin the day. The Otters had more kills and points than the Huskies but Tech forced the Broncos into 18 attacking errors, eight service errors, six reception errors, and three blocking errors. Tech only trailed for a brief moment late in the first but closed the set on a six to one run.
“To come out here and begin the weekend by sweeping a solid and very physical Cal Poly Pomona team is a great way to start our season,” Tech coach Matt Jennings said. “I was particularly happy with the way we played at the end of the first two sets, holding on late and when it was close. We came up with some big plays on both sides of the ball to close out all three sets, which for the most part were played pretty close all match. We were poised, together, and managed a decent comeback to win set three. We had some veterans come through for us and at the same time, saw some really good stuff from a few first-time starters.
“I thought the first match came down to winning the serve-pass game, our serving was on point and we passed well enough to side out pretty consistently. We were good out of system and played some pretty tough defense.”
Lindy Oujiri led the offense with 11 kills. Meg Raabe tallied nine kills and 11 digs in her first match for the Huskies. Jillian Kuizenga (eight kills) and Janie Grindland (six kills) also contributed offensively. Lina Espejo-Ramirez set the attack with 27 assists and led the defense with 13 digs.
Michigan Tech 3, Academy of Art 0
The Huskies swept the Urban Knights 25-15, 25-18, and 25-17 late in the day. Tech hit .248 while allowing the opponent to only .061. Tech led from start to finish and mixed in 12 players throughout the match.
“Playing two in the same day is a challenge, especially when we’re so far from home,” added Jennings. “To hold on and sweep match two was nice to see. I thought we did a good job staying poised and working through some of the early-season pieces that all teams are working on at this point. We played together, took advantage of points they gave us, and for the most part, got better overall mid to late in each of the sets. Again, ball control and out-of-system offense was the key for us. Passing was pretty strong in this match too, especially from Carissa and Meg.”
Kuizenga led the attack with 10 kills. Oujiri (7), Raabe (6), and Grindland (5) also had five kills with Grindland hitting .455 and adding three blocks. Espejo-Ramirez tallied 30 assists with six different Huskies digging up at least four balls.
“Janie was good all day, very fast to attack and smart with her shots,” said Jennings. “She also blocked well and had a lot of important touches for us that turned into transition points. Lina commanded the offense as well as we could ask and did a wonderful job getting her hitters going. Our pins had a nice and balanced attack in both matches; low error and smart with their shot selection.
“Shout out to our true freshman Meg today as well. They tried to go after her quite a bit in serve receive, and she held her own. She played a true six rotations for us in both matches and had a very nice introductory weekend to her career.”
Tech wraps up the weekend in California with a 12:30 p.m. match against Cal State Dominguez Hills and tournament-host Cal State Monterey Bay at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday (Aug. 27).