The Michigan volleyball team was in trouble.

After losing six of its last seven matches, Michigan found
itself down 2-0 on the road against a solid Purdue team. It looked
like the Wolverines were going to drop another tough loss.

But this time, Michigan came back.

Sparked by senior Jennifer Gandolph, Michigan won the next three
games to defeat Purdue 3-2 on Saturday. Gandolph recorded six
kills, three digs and a block in the third game to ignite
Michigan’s comeback.

“If we could get through the frustration (of the past few
matches), I thought we would be a lot stronger,” Michigan
coach Mark Rosen said. “We knew Purdue was going to be a
battle, and it was all that and a little more.”

Ironically, Rosen believes it was an injury to Wolverine senior
Sarah Allen that swung the momentum in Michigan’s favor.

“Purdue’s momentum just stopped,” Rosen said.
“It happened with two points left in game two, so it
didn’t have an impact right away. But it changed the dynamic
of our lineup, and I think we played a lot looser after that.
Momentum’s a crazy thing — it can change at the drop of
a hat, and I think that’s what did it for us.”

Freshman Stesha Selsky replaced Allen and notched a career-high
24 digs, leading the Wolverines’ defensive surge in the final
three games. The Wolverines edged Purdue 30-25 in the third game
while holding Purdue to a .085 hitting percentage in the third
game. Michigan also recorded five of its eight blocks in games four
and five.

Trailing two games to one, Michigan (7-7 Big Ten, 17-8 overall)
took an early 9-3 lead in the fourth game, with strong offensive
play from Gandolph and Bruzdzinski. Purdue fought back —
scoring 11 of the next 16 points — until sophomore Erin
Cobler recorded three kills and a service ace to spark the
Wolverines. Leading 24-18, Michigan went on a 6-1 run, culminating
in a decisive service ace by Gandolph to win the game.

After taking the fourth game 30-19 to tie the match 2-2,
Gandolph started game five with a strong kill to give Michigan a
1-0 advantage. Purdue responded with two quick points to take its
first lead since the beginning of the third game. The two teams
traded points, until the Boilermakers pulled ahead, 8-6, on an
out-of-bounds call that Michigan deemed questionable.

But then Gandolph took control, scoring three of the next four
points, including a decisive kill to the outside. The game resumed
its back-and-forth pace, until freshman Lyndsay Miller recorded a
solid block to break the 13-13 tie. Freshman Katie Bruzdzinski
served an ace to give Michigan a 15-13 win.

“We had been on a learning curve (over) the last few
weeks,” Bruzdzinski said. “Last week we worked on
everything in practice, and tonight our work really paid off. We
were put in a pressure situation in game five, and picked it up a
level.”

Bruzdzinski recorded a career-high 23 kills — including
three in the final game — to lead Michigan offensively.
Senior Lisa Gamalski added 10 kills, 17 digs and a season-high 68
assists for the third triple-double of her career.

“During the whole match, we were more consistent —
our hitting, our passing, our defense — and we made fewer
mistakes,” Selsky said. “In the last three games, we
didn’t give points away, and it enabled us to break
them.”

Michigan committed just three attack errors — while
notching 31 kills — to hit .414 in the final two games. In
contrast, after hitting .469 in the first game, Purdue (5-9, 12-12)
finished the match hitting just .266, with 16 errors in the last
three games alone.

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