By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 26, 2012
After taking then No. 17 Purdue to a fifth set earlier in the season, the Michigan volleyball team struggled to win a single set on Friday on the road against the 21st-ranked Boilermakers.
More like this
The Wolverines fell 23-25, 19-25, 17-25 for their third straight loss, pushing their conference record to 4-7 after starting the season 12-2. The recent skid is reminiscent of last year’s Big Ten schedule in which Michigan started 13-0 before falling in 11 of the following games.
Purdue was in rhythm all night, taking advantage a lethargic Michigan offense and a defense that moved slowly to the ball. The Boilermakers posted a .346 attacking percentage while the Wolverines were unable to find junior middle blocker Jennifer Cross to spark their offense.
After being named Big Ten player of the week for her strong performances against Illinois and Northwestern, opponents have easily found ways to stuff the Michigan offense.
The Wolverines hit .144 against Purdue after hitting .133 against Michigan State and .152 against Penn State during last week’s play.
Michigan took an 11-10 lead after slow play in the first set, before going on a 4-0 run. The momentum didn’t last long, though, as the Boilermakers went on a 9-0 run to answer back. The Wolverines managed to knot the set at 22 on one of the four kills from Cross, but Purdue took three of the next four points to close the match.
Set two began a downward spiral for the Wolverines following a 5-0 run by Purdue to begin. The Wolverines scored two points to respond, but the three-point deficit was as close as they would come. The Boilermakers never put together a run longer than three points, but pulled away on strong play from senior outside hitter Ariel Turner, who had 18 kills in the match.
Michigan’s offense also slowed down dramatically in the second set, as sophomore setter Lexi Dannemiller struggled to find another hitter to help junior outside hitter from being blocked.
The Wolverines began the third set with a 4-2 run before Purdue used an 9-0 run crush any hope of a comeback for Michigan. The game advanced quickly after the Boilermakers dominant run, with little effort from an exhausted Wolverine squad.
Erwin’s 16 kills on 42 attempts ended up as Michigan’s lone bright spot during the night. Dannemiller finished with 29 assists on the night to lead the tam and matched Erwin and freshman libero Tiffany Morales for a team-high eight digs.
The Wolverines will have to recover quickly when they travel to Bloomington, Ind. to play Indiana on Saturday night.