Sunday afternoon, the Michigan volleyball team (14-9 overall, 7-7 Big Ten) traveled to College Park to take on Maryland (18-8, 6-8) in an intense Big Ten match-up. Not only were the Wolverines searching for their first win of November, but they were also looking to bounce back after a 3-1 loss at the hands of Penn State on Friday.
Michigan, which had been tied with Maryland in the Big Ten standings coming into the contest, would also look to gain sole possession of eighth place in the Big Ten. After a hard fought match, the Wolverines emerged victorious in straight sets.
As game time approached, Michigan coach Mark Rosen knew exactly what his team needed to do to return home victorious.
“Their left sides are probably their weakest point,” Rosen said. “We wanted to serve really tough and force them to have to set their left sides. I thought we did a really good job of that. The second thing is they are a really good blocking team, that’s their thing, I think (Maryland) is ranked No. 1 in the country at blocking so we really wanted to keep our offense balanced and not let them key on any hitters.”
Michigan came out with a purpose early-on in the matchup, only making one attack error in 25 attempts. This clean style of play helped lead the Wolverines to take the first set, 25-13.
“It’s huge that we don’t give up points,” Rosen said. “In the first set Maryland gave up 17 errors, 17 out of 25 makes it really easy. The second game we really cleaned up our errors, but we were really steady and weathered it really well. Third set we got a little bit loose at the beginning, but I thought after that point we played really clean.”
The Wolverines started just as strong in the second set, again making only one attack error in 32 attack attempts. Even in a hostile environment, Michigan continued to dictate each set. Senior outside hitter Paige Jones and freshman middle blocker Jacque Boney slammed down the final two points of the set, handing the Wolverines a 25-14 set-win and a 2-0 lead over Maryland heading into the third set, silencing the College Park crowd.
“I think it was just business as usual,” Jones said. “We came out playing really well which took their fans out of the equation and just allowed us to play.”
As Michigan looked to take the final set and complete the sweep of the Terrapins, Maryland battled back to gain control of the game. While the Terrapins continued to widen their lead, the Wolverines looked for a spark to prevent a Maryland comeback.
“(Coach Rosen) called a time out and talked to us,” Jones said. “He told us that of (Maryland’s) first 10 points, eight of them were our own errors. It was us just changing to the mindset of ‘we’re beating ourselves’ and that we could clean up our play a little bit, but Maryland is a really good team, and we are on their court, so I think they did start playing a lot better.”
Behind a match-high 14 kills from Jones, the Wolverines overcame the third-set deficit and escaped with a 25-22 victory to secure the sweep.