SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- The story of the 2019 Lawrence Technological (Mich.) University women's volleyball team will be rich in history as they earned their first WHAC Tournament Championship on Saturday, Nov. 16, defeating Madonna (Mich.) University 3-1 (27-25, 25-17, 26-24, 26-24). So, if we are keeping track this season, that's program firsts in: WHAC wins (20-0), total wins (32-2), being ranked in the NAIA top 25 (20th), WHAC Regular Season Championship, WHAC Tournament Championship, and automatic qualifier to the NAIA National Tournament.
Lawrence Tech (32-2) and Madonna played a tight tournament final as each set was a battle with the Blue Devils taking the first set 27-25. With Zakia Hunt out, the Blue Devils turned to Marriya Henry in the middle and she answered the bell with four kills in the opening set and one block assist. The set went back-and-forth as it was tied eight times until the Blue Devils went on a 6-2 run tied at 11-11 to take a 17-13 lead. The Crusaders answered with a 5-1 mini-run to tie it back up at 18-18. The set would go point-for-point with Isabella McDonald giving LTU the lead at 26-25 and an attacking error on Madonna closed the set out for Lawrence Tech to take a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, it was all Madonna as they opened with a 6-0 lead and extended it to 9-3 before the Blue Devils were able to claw themselves back into it at 12-12 off Kristi Doherty's kill. The Crusaders went back up three, but another kill from Madeline Hudson and an error by Madonna put the game within one at 16-15. However, Madonna closed the set out on a 9-2 run to tie the match at 1-1 with a 25-17 win.
In the third set, the Blue Devils and Crusaders continued to slug it out as Madonna opened with a 17-11 lead before Lawrence Tech stormed back to tie the set at 21-21 as Gromakova tied it with a kill. The Blue Devils would than take the lead at 22-21, but Madonna would answer with the next two points to got up 23-22. The Blue Devils would take advantage of the Crusaders errors to take the set 26-24 and retake the lead at 2-1.
Madonna opened the fourth set with a 9-3 lead, but Doherty stopped the run with an ace. It seemed to kickstart the Blue Devils as they cut the lead to 13-11 off Hyduk's serve. The Crusaders would go back up by six, 17-11 but once again the Blue Devils seniors responded with Gromakova serving them to within three points at 17-14. Lodge's service game of four straight points cut it to one point, 20-19. Hudson tied it on the next point, but Jodie Kelly put the Crusaders back in the lead at 21-20. Henry won the next two Blue Devils points to help tie it back up at 22-22. Hyduk got the ace on the next point to go up 23-22 and a bad set by Madonna gave LTU a 24-22 lead. The Crusaders would win the following two points to tie it up again, this time at 24-24 before Gromakova sealed the Championship with a pair of kills for a 26-24.
Lodge and Gromakova finished the game with a team high 11 kills while McDonald added 10 and Henry finished with nine. Doherty recorded a team high 41 assists while Lodge added three aces. Henry finished with a .368 hitting percentage and two block assists. Shelby Rasch had a team high 19 digs.
Lawrence Tech now awaits their destination as the NAIA is set to announce the tournament field on November 18 at 10 a.m. CST | Live National Championship Qualifier Reveal | Watch Live on Facebook
WVB | CHAMPIONS OF THE WHAC!! Congratulations to the women's volleyball team on winning the WHAC Tournament Championship and WHAC Reg. Season Championship.— LTU Athletics (@LTUAthletics) November 16, 2019
WHAC Champions ����
32-2; 20-0 ☑️
NAIA National Tournament ☑️#Historic #Champions #SiouxCity pic.twitter.com/wUeI2mb9Pp