Late in the third set against Iowa Saturday, freshman libero Tiffany Morales’ serve went directly into the net, ending a short run for the Michigan volleyball team. Morales, though, walked back to her huddle with a smile across her face and a group of teammates matching her expression.

It was the type of game where even when a play didn’t work out, the game was still in the Wolverines’ favor.

After a dramatic and thrilling five-set victory over No. 4 Nebraska on Friday, Michigan made quick work of Iowa on Saturday, winning 25-19, 25-10, 25-12. It was the Wolverines’ third straight victory, evening up their Big Ten record at 7-7 with six games remaining in the season. The Hawkeyes (2-12 Big Ten, 10-17 overall) have yet to win a set since October 13 during their six game skid.

“We’ve been much more steady,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen. “Part of that is related to confidence. Part of that is becoming more mature as a team. We’re seeing it come together, which is what you expect throughout the season. I really thought we’ve taken a really big step in the last four to five matches.”

Michigan (19-9 overall) hit a season-high .451 on the night, taking advantage of an Iowa team that looked lost and confused. The Hawkeyes finished with a .087 attack percentage.

Tied at seven to begin the first set, the Wolverines began to pull away with a short 4-0 run — it’s biggest of the set. Led by junior outside hitter Lexi Erwin’s six kills in the set, Michigan steadily managed to build up a 20-13 before coasting to the end.

The Wolverines raced out to an early 4-0 lead in set two only to watch Iowa take the next three points back. Michigan broke the game open with a 13-4 run immediately after, capped by a kill from freshman outside hitter Kelly Murphy. Making good use of the Hawkeyes’ numerous attack errors, the Wolverines closed the set on a 5-0 run.

The second set eventually allowed Rosen to rotate his lineup and provide action for a young and inexperienced bench. It was the first time in Rosen’s 14 season that he remembers using every member of his lineup in a match.

“Everyone works really hard in practice,” Rosen said. They play at a really high level, and they don’t always get to show it in a game. Tonight we had an opportunity to do that. Everybody who normally does get to play, was more excited for everybody else than themselves.

“A lot of times, when you make those changes, the level drops down because everybody is thinking about themselves instead of each other. But tonight it didn’t drop at all. We stayed a super high level.”

Ahead 3-2 in the third set, Michigan put together a 9-1 run with three of Erwin’s team-high 10 kills on the night. The Hawkeyes, appearing lethargic, could not match Michigan’s energy at the end of the game. The Wolverines finished on a 6-2 run with kills from an unlikely pair in freshman setter Carly Warner and freshman outside hitter Ally Davis.

A balanced attack accounted for 44 kills, 42 digs and 40 assists on the night. Following a 64-assist game against Nebraska, sophomore setter Lexi Dannemiller tallied just 28 assists to lead the team, while Morales contributed a team-high 11 digs.

“We have the skill and we knew that all along,” said senior right-side hitter Claire McElheny. “We know the games that we’ve lost, we could have played a lot better.”

With the potential to fall after an emotional game, Michigan instead heads into the final stretch of the regular season before it prepares for a chance in the NCAA ournament.

“We want to prepare the same every night, no matter who were playing, no matter where we’re playing, no matter what happened the night before” Rosen said. “We went through the same process and if we prepare the same way we can expect the same outcome.”

It may just be the year where even when the season doesn’t appear to be going their way, it’s still working out in the Wolverines’ favor.

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