Following a clean bump and a good set, senior outside hitter Sydney Wetterstrom rose in the air and spiked the ball across the net. The ball deflected off the fingers of an Indiana blocker and fell on the Hoosiers’ side of the net to win the opening point of the night.
This became a common sight for the senior on her Senior Night, as Wetterstrom finished with a season-best 20 kills. The Wolverines’ offense was too much for the Hoosiers, and the Michigan volleyball team (20-10 overall, 13-7 Big Ten) beat Indiana (14-18, 3-16), 3-1, Friday in the last game of the regular season.
Michigan started the match well, as multiple 3-0 runs helped it cruise to a 25-12 first-set victory. The Wolverines made no attack errors throughout the set, and they were precise with their 15 kills, taking advantage of every opportunity that the Hoosiers presented – finishing the set with a 62.5 attack percentage.
“I thought the first game, we just did exactly what we wanted to do and that helped us just get off to a great start,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen. “I don’t think defensively they could keep up.”
Struggling to stop Michigan’s hitters, Indiana adjusted in the second set by hitting harder and lower serves – an aggressive strategy that’s more likely to create aces and cause first-ball errors, but also increase the chances of service errors. That led the Hoosiers out to a 6-1 start, as the Wolverines struggled to deal with the harder serves. While Michigan recovered to tie the set at 20, the Hoosiers ultimately won, 25-23.
Learning to handle those bigger serves helped the Wolverines recover and win the third set, 25-19. After giving up five aces in the second set, Michigan allowed just two in the third. It also didn’t make as many errors off the serve, leading to easier sets and stronger attacks.
“The biggest adjustment was trying to get a better read on their serving so we control that first contact,” Rosen said. “In the third set, I thought we did much better.”
The Wolverines still had streaks of poorly handling the serve, and they began the fourth set in a 5-0 hole. But whenever Michigan handled the first ball, Indiana was unable to stop the Wolverines’ offense. They eventually responded with a 5-0 scoring run of their own and won the set 25-23 to avoid a fifth set and send the seniors out with a victory.
The seniors contributed significantly to the effort in their final match at Cliff Keen Arena, particularly senior setter Mackenzi Welsh, who finished the match with 55 assists and six digs.
“(Welsh) is one of the best setters in the country,” Rosen said. “She does a great job of running our offense and putting our hitters in one-on-one situations where she isolates them with a blocker.”
Welsh, in turn, helped provide easy opportunities for senior opposite hitter Katarina Glavinic and fifth-year senior middle blocker Cori Crocker, who finished with 13 and nine kills, respectively. Rosen was proud of the way his seniors handled the moment and stayed focused.
“They want to go out with a win,” Rosen said. “I thought they did a good job with all the extraneous things going on of working through that and being able to win the match.”