Pertofsky shines in Wolverines' win over Fighting Irish

Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 8:34pm

Freshman opposite May Pertofsky was key for Michigan in its victory over Notre Dame.

Freshman opposite May Pertofsky was key for Michigan in its victory over Notre Dame. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

In the first set of Sunday's match against Notre Dame, May Pertofsky stepped up to the line to serve and quickly earned Michigan a point to go up 5-2 on a service ace.

On the next play, the freshman opposite hitter would once again secure a service ace, forcing the Fighting Irish (7-3) to call a timeout and giving the Michigan volleyball team (7-3) early momentum in a game that it was in a breezy 3-1 victory.

Pertofsky, who has become a major contributor for the Wolverines in the early stages of their season, has arguably been the team’s best server, notching 13 service aces thus far this season. She tied her career high on Sunday with four total service aces, adding two more in the match’s second set. Despite her prowess on the service line, Michigan coach Mark Rosen believes that she still hasn’t hit her full potential in that facet of the game.

“Her serve is definitely a really fun work in progress,” Rosen said. “It’s getting better and better, and when it’s on, it’s nasty.”

Added Pertofsky: “I’ve been in practice working on getting my serve more consistent, harder, and I’m still working on it.”

Despite her prowess on serves, Pertofsky was perhaps most effective in the front row, blocking five shots and notching five assists. Her ability to disrupt shots allowed the Wolverines to extend rallies against the Fighting Irish all match long, many of which they won thanks to Pertofsky’s set ups.

“I thought she was great tonight,” Rosen said. “She’s learning how to be a very consistent player, and for the most part this year she’s been that.”

In the second set, Pertofsky came up to serve with the game tied early at three. She ripped one into the left corner, scoring her third ace. After a Notre Dame error, Pertofsky once again scored a service ace, giving Michigan a 6-3 edge and momentum that it would carry to a 25-15 victory — the most lopsided win of the match.

“I just went back there and said, ‘We really need this momentum right now and just come out as hard as we can,’ ” Pertofsky said. “I was like ‘I’m just gonna go after it,’ so I served as hard as I could and I felt the connection was really good.”

In the fourth set, Pertofsky once again came up big for the Wolverines. With a seven-point lead, she netted a kill on a spike off a pass from senior setter MacKenzi Welsh. On the next play, she blocked a ball right in front of the net and gave Michigan a 24-15 lead on its way to a 25-16 victory to close the match.

After finishing the match with 17.5 points to lead the team, Pertofsky should continue to be a force for the Wolverines as they head into their conference slate. Even though he knows there’s still room to improve, Rosen couldn’t be happier with his freshman’s stellar outing.

“Tonight was a great match for her,” Rosen said. “And it was a great match against a really great opponent.”