UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The Michigan Tech volleyball team had its 2016 season come to an end in a five-set thriller at Saginaw Valley State in the quarterfinal round of the GLIAC Tournament Wednesday (Nov. 16). The Huskies and Cardinals battled to extra points in the first four sets at Hamilton Gymnasium, and it was the home team winning 15-12 in the fifth to advance to the GLIAC Semifinals.
Seniors Aubrey Ficek and Rachel Pohlod both had career nights in their final match in a Huskies' uniform. Ficek had a career high 30 kills, while Pohlod had career highs in assists (68) and digs (27).
"As tough as that loss was, I don't think a better and more entertaining match could have been played tonight," Tech coach Matt Jennings said. "It was an honor to be part of, and I am so incredibly proud of our team—each and every one of them. They left it all out on the court."
Ficek led Tech to the early lead, racking up nine kills in the first set. Down 24-23, Lauren Emmert tied it up with a kill, and Ficek gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead with back-to-back kills.
SVSU (19-10) carried the lead for much of the second set and were up 23-19 before the Black and Gold turned it on, scoring seven of the final eight points to take a 2-0 lead. Rachel Pohlod, Ficek, and Emmert had kills down the stretch and Stephanie Dietrich had the final two points.
The Cardinals took set three 27-25 after 22 ties. Dietrich led the Huskies with four kills in the frame. The marathon fourth set went in favor of the home team 33-31 as the Cardinals survived six match points. Like the first set, Ficek pounded down nine kills
The two teams were tied at nine in the fifth before SVSU scored six of the final nine points to advance to play top-seeded Ferris State in the GLIAC Semifinal.
"That huge comeback in the second was impressive but really, the back and forth that went down in the fourth set was outstanding," added Jennings. "The defensive effort by both sides was incredible. Our team has so much to be proud of, especially our seniors. Aubrey was pretty amazing out there and Rachel was as good as it gets."
Dietrich also had a career high in kills with 15, while adding five block assists and hitting .349. Emmert finished with 11 kills while MacAualay Petersen added nine. Both had three block assists.
"Our middles were a huge part of our attack tonight and really played well," Jennings said. "Halie and Elle did wonderfully in serve receive and gave us a real chance to score off their serve. All our defenders had a good night."
Tech finished 16-15 on the season and was playing in its second GLIAC Tournament in a row and third match against SVSU this season. Tech defeated the Cardinals 3-0 on September 17 downstate before SVSU got revenge with a 3-1 win on November 11 at the SDC Gym.
"Back-to-back winning seasons means a lot to this program," Jennings added. "Being regionally ranked was also a highlight we're proud of along with improving our GLIAC standing by four spots. We're moving in the right direction and I'm just so thankful for all the hard work and faith our team put towards what we're doing. They are an incredible group."
Pohlod finished her career with 3,107 assists (4th in Tech history). Her 1,238 assists in 2016 rank second in season assists. Pohlod also recorded 1,223 career digs to rank fourth in Tech history, averaging 3.02 per set (8th in Tech history). Ficek finished her career with 1,044 kills, averaging 2.93 per set.