The Tennessee volleyball team looked poised to capture the Toyota LV Classic down in Knoxville, until the floor parted and swallowed up all of its momentum. When play resumed 44 minutes, later the Wolverines staged a come-from-behind victory to win the weekend event.
In game one, the Lady Vols looked to be unbeatable.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “Tennessee came out on fire and executed really well.”
The Lady Vols looked to carry their momentum into game two, but the Wolverines (6-3) were fortunate to catch a break – literally. With the score tied 1-1 in the second game, the wooden floor broke and caved in near the net, causing the match to be moved to the other side of the gym. During the long break, the veterans on the team took charge.
“Our upperclassmen really kept our team composed and focused while we were waiting,” Rosen said. “We were able to make some adjustments and fight back from their initial explosion.”
After the delay, the Wolverines captured game two by a 30-27 margin. The Lady Vols made a late run to narrow the gap to 29-27, but junior Jennifer Gandolph ended the game with a kill – one of 18 on the day – to level the match at one game apiece.
The Lady Vols (7-2) took the lead back by taking game three, 30-27, but the Wolverines finished off Tennessee by taking both the fourth and deciding fifth game. Senior Erin Moore was named tournament MVP for the second straight week. The captain recorded 20 kills and 10 digs during the five-game match. She also took a career-high 54 swings during the match which eclipsed her previous high of 50.
“Erin played great all weekend, she really carried us,” Rosen said. “Teams tend to target her because of the caliber of her play, and she really responds to the pressure that comes along with that.”
Another player who made an impact on the game was Nicole Poquette. After sitting out the first two matches of the weekend due to an ankle injury, Poquette had made her presense felt in the championship match. The senior recorded a career-high 19 kills and really aided a team that needed her leadership.
The victory raised Michigan’s overall record to 6-3 and gives the team five wins in its last six matches.
“We beat a very good team, and I’m glad we got out of there alive,” Rosen said.
Earlier in the weekend, Michigan swept both East Tennessee State and Cal State-Fullerton in three easy games apiece. The Wolverines kept their opponents from scoring more than 20 points in any of the six games.
“Physically we overmatched those teams,” Rosen said. “We knew we were bigger and stronger, and we showed a lot of discipline by getting motivated for two matches that were not the most challenging.
“We took care of business, and we were able to use a lot of lineups and get a lot of younger players some experience. We’re trying to focus on how we’re playing and not worry about who the opponent is.”