This weekend, the Michigan volleyball team will look to recover from a winless road trip last weekend. The Wolverines fell in four games to both Minnesota and Iowa. With the loss to the Hawkeyes, the Wolverines (7-7 Big Ten, 11-10 overall) fell to .500 on the year in the Big Ten. Michigan should have its hands full on Friday against the Big Ten”s best team, No. 6 Wisconsin (13-1, 19-3).
“The only thing we could do this week was get in the gym and work hard,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen. “Our players know the mistakes they made against Iowa. They know they have to minimize them this week too.”
The Badgers are led by senior Sherisa Livingston and sophomore Lisa Zukowski. Livingston comes in to Cliff Keen Arena averaging 4.97 kills per game while Zukowski comes in with a mark of 3.7. Michigan needs to shut down this duo if it is to compete with the Badgers.
“Wisconsin is a big, physical team with great experience. Sherisa Livingston is probably one of the best players in the nation,” said Rosen. “We”ll just have to counter them with a strong physical presence ourselves.”
More consistent play by freshman sensation Jennifer Gandolph will be key for a Michigan upset. Gandolph”s age showed in last week”s games. On the weekend, she was given 86 attack opportunities, but could only put away 26 of them, while committing 18 errors. This comes out to a .093 attack percentage not good enough for one of the Wolverines” main offensive threats.
Junior Katrina Lehman looked impressive against Minnesota, but poor against Iowa. Against the Golden Gophers, Lehman put away 11 of 25 attempts with only three errors. On Saturday against the Hawkeyes, she ended the day with a negative .091 attack percentage, finishing with 11 errors and 9 kills. All season long, Lehman has been one of Michigan”s most productive players.
Freshman Carrie Ritchie has been making the most of her increased playing time over the past few weeks.
In the past, Ritchie”s huge jump serves have helped to ignite the Wolverines. In Saturday”s loss to Iowa, Ritchie posted a career high four kills.