EAST LANSING – The Michigan volleyball team had a great start, but all good things must come to an end.
After starting the season with a 13-game win streak, No. 21 Michigan lost 3-1 at Michigan State Saturday in front of a record-setting crowd of 5,335 fans. It was the Wolverines’ first loss of the season.
The Spartans took control early and never let up, winning the first set 25-19.
“I thought State played outstanding and they did everything that we wanted to do,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “That’s frustrating. I think we knew what they were going to do, and I think we had plans of what we wanted to do to try and counter what their style is, and we didn’t execute.”
The Wolverines showed signs of life during the second set. Junior right-side hitter Megan Bower tallied seven kills and sophomore setter Lexi Zimmerman registered nine assists and five digs to silence the near-capacity crowd. Michigan won the set 25-15 to tie the match at one apiece.
“I thought we got our game back to our game plan (during the second set),” Rosen said. “We served tough, we passed much better and we sided out consistently.”
The success, however, was short-lived. Coming out of the locker room, the Wolverines (1-1 Big Ten, 13-1 Overall) had high hopes to pull ahead of the Spartans, but nothing seemed to work. Michigan State (2-0, 10-3) rallied back after the break to take a close third set 25-21 and get the crowd back in the match.
“Once they were being successful we just got frustrated,” Rosen said. “As an athlete or a coach those are just the most frustrating situations, because you feel somewhat helpless and someone who is competitive doesn’t want to feel helpless.”
The fourth set had a promising start, with the Wolverines holding close at 9-9, but a series of attacking errors and a service ace from Spartan sophomore libero Allyson Karaba helped Michigan State win 16 of the last 22 points.
“We didn’t side out well,” Rosen said. “We didn’t pass the ball well, so we couldn’t side out well on the offense, and when we got back to serve, we served, I thought, very soft and let them put in a system we couldn’t defend.”
The Spartans won the fourth and final set 25-15 for a 3-1 victory over the Wolverines.
The first loss of a season is always tough, especially when it comes at the hands of a rival.
“They’re stinging, but in some ways that’s a good thing, because we didn’t play very well,” Rosen said. “We shouldn’t walk out feeling very good about it. (We’ve) got to make sure that feeling motivates us so hopefully, it doesn’t happen next time.”