Sophomore outside hitter May Pertofsky led the Michigan volleyball team (4-3 Big Ten) to a 3-1 win over Indiana (3-13) on Saturday with 17 kills on the day, only one shy of her career-best. Junior outside hitter Paige Jones had an outstanding match the day before, but Pertofsky stepped up in the second game to lead the Wolverines when Jones fell back.
“This team does that really well,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “They just rely on each other, they have confidence in each other. They trust each other, and so if someone is a little off, somebody will step up in another way.”
Pertofsky, however, credits her stellar performance to the rest of her teammates and the role they all play in each other’s performances.
“The biggest thing is I know my team has my back,” Pertofsky said. “I could swing as hard as I could and if I get blocked, or if they get a touch or something like that, I know my team is going to be there for me.”
Pertofsky started the day with six kills in the first set, helping the Wolverines to a 30-28 win. Two aces from Pertofsky in both the third and fourth sets helped lead the team to win both of those games as well. She also hit a .593, the second highest for Michigan, behind only junior middle blocker Kayla Bair.
Pertofsky also had an impressive performance Friday, racking up the second-most kills for the team with 13, but she was outshined by Jones, who had a program-record 37 kills. Pertofsky’s outing came off of a two-week pause for the Wolverines, as they were quarantined due to COVID-19 contact tracing the previous two weeks and missed games against Minnesota and Rutgers. Despite previously playing just seven games, compared to Indiana’s 16, Michigan was still able to record a pair of wins this weekend.
“We’ve been hit pretty hard,” Pertosky said. “I think we’re one of the three schools that has been hit the hardest with COVID and restrictions and stuff, so that’s definitely sucked a lot, but every time we have the opportunity to come into the gym, we work as hard as we can and we stay connected.”
Although Wolverines have had many pauses in their season, they place an emphasis on focusing on what is controllable.
“We talk about that in our program a lot — don’t worry about or don’t get focused on the things we have no control over,” Rosen said. “I think this team has a lot of potential, and we knew that at the beginning and we felt that at the beginning, but now once we can have some time in the gym and some consistent competition, I think we’ll see that. And I thought this weekend we kept getting better.”
Without Pertofsky’s performance and her resiliency, Michigan may have taken a step backwards this weekend. Instead, it did the opposite.
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