Whether you believe in superstition or not, it is hard to deny the importance of the number three for the Michigan volleyball team this season.
The Wolverines (6-3) enter this weekend’s tournament at Cliff Keen Arena on a three-game winning streak, and will be looking to capture their third straight tournament championship of the year. Senior Erin Moore also received her third career MVP honor last weekend at the Toyota LV Classic.
“Erin has had a whole lot less (pressure) on her shoulders, and I think that’s why she has done a good job so far,” coach Mark Rosen said.
After losing two of its first three matches, Michigan has won five out of six and is starting to hit its stride.
“We didn’t play well at all that first weekend,” Rosen said. “We’re back to the form that I expected us to be at in this point of the year. I think that first week was more unusual than anything.”
The team’s senior leadership has been a big key to its resurgence. The team returns five of its six starters from last year, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
The Wolverines’ freshmen have been crucial during their winning streak. In fact, freshman Meghan Bowman currently leads the Big Ten in blocking.
“It seems like (Meghan) gets better every single day,” Rosen said. “The Tennessee match was a great example where she wasn’t much of a factor offensively early. But she ended up getting better and better and ended up with a career high for kills.”
Bowman and the rest of the team will need to continue their inspired play if they hope to compete when Big Ten play rolls into town next weekend. Rosen knows that the intensity level and the quality of play will only increase.
“Penn State will be on a caliber that will be equitable to Kansas State (the No. 10 ranked team in the country),” he said. “Ohio State seems to be a little up and down, but does have one of the best players in the country in Stacey Gordon. We will need to find some answers for her.”
Before they get too ahead of themselves, the Wolverines will need to find some answers for Central Michigan and Valparaiso. All three teams will compete in the Michigan/Nike Challenge this weekend, giving Michigan one last shot to gear up for conference play.