After starting off the Big Ten season with a 4-1 record, the Michigan volleyball team looked like it could potentially compete for a conference title.

After hitting a bump in the road with a 2-4 mark over the last three weeks, though, which included Friday’s four-set loss to Wisconsin, the 13th-ranked Wolverines seemed like they were destined to finish in the middle of the pack.

Saturday night’s four-set victory over visiting Iowa looks like it may have turned the tide again, at least according to junior setter Lexi Zimmerman. She believes the team is back on track to contend for a top-three finish in the Big Ten standings.

“The vibe in the locker room (after Saturday’s match) was just that we’re headed in the right direction,” Zimmerman said. “It was very positive — and we’re definitely not there yet — but it was a good step in the right direction.”

The Wolverines (7-5 Big Ten, 19-6 overall) came out slowly in the opening minutes of the first set against the Hawkeyes. Michigan fell behind 15-8 and couldn’t recover. The Wolverines committed 12 attack errors in the frame while hitting an abysmal -0.043 attack percentage.

Still, Michigan coach Mark Rosen quickly noted that he was proud of his team for competing hard and sticking to the game plan after their “backs were against the wall.”

“We talked about getting better defensively — blocking and our floor defense,” Rosen said. “We’re working on getting better at our base positions and our read positions on defense and we did (Saturday).”

Against Wisconsin on Friday night, Michigan didn’t have a lot of clean digs, where the ball went right to Zimmerman to set one of the hitters. A fair amount of times, another player had to set the ball, which forced the Wolverines out of their offensive rhythm.

The following night, the Wolverines made adjustments and showed why they sit in third place in the Big Ten in digs. Five players reached double figures against the Hawkeyes (3-9, 11-13).

In sets two through four against Iowa, Michigan won convincingly, with the margin of victory no less than five points in each set.

“Game one was a buzz saw,” Rosen said of the Iowa game. “(Iowa) came out strong, but we made a ton of errors. … In game two, we made two errors, so I was proud of how the team got back under control and rolled through the rest of the match.”

Injury Update: Zimmerman dished out 41 assists in Saturday’swinning effort. The Barrington, Ill. native is still nursing a dislocated right thumb suffered Oct. 21 at Michigan State. She currently has a brace on the hand, and the injury doesn’t seem to be affecting the Wolverine offensive attack, but the thumb is still “loose” and “tender”, according to Rosen.

“She’s not able to do the things she’s normally able to do in transition,” Rosen said “In transition, sometimes she can’t get her body in a great position, so she relies on manipulating the ball with her hands. Right now, she has a club on it. Now, she’s more human, but she’s doing a great job.”

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