Sometimes, sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour. For the
Michigan volleyball team, sour is losing two consecutive fifth-set
matches at home against Big Ten opponents the past two Saturdays;
sweet is sweeping Indiana, 3-0 on Friday and finally winning a
fifth set against conference powerhouse Purdue, 3-2 on
Saturday.

“We did come up short twice but did play pretty well,” said
coach Mark Rosen about the two previous fifth-set losses at home
against Penn State and Wisconsin. “You want to get rid of that
negative connotation of fifth games.”

Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 12-5 overall) has won 11 of its past 14
matches, and the victories marked the first time since the 1997
season the Wolverines have won two road Big Ten matches on the same
weekend.

“I thought it was a really significant weekend,” Rosen said. “We
kind of knew this might be a chance for us to push away a little
and build momentum.”

After breaking a little sweat against Indiana (2-3, 9-7) on
Friday night, the Wolverines faced a tougher Big Ten road test
Saturday against Purdue (4-2, 11-5). It would take a career match
from senior Erin Moore and veteran-like play from Michigan’s two
starting freshmen, Megan Bowman and Danielle Pflum if the
Wolverines hoped to defeat the Boilermakers in front of a sellout
crowd at the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility.

All three happened.

Michigan capitalized on Purdue’s errors and its sloppy .065
attack percentage in the first game to take a comfortable 1-0 match
lead.

With Michigan leading 24-21 in game two, the momentum began to
swing in favor of the Boilermakers as they won nine of the final 12
points, evening the match at 1-1.

“We were going constantly back and forth,” Rosen said about the
match swings. “We just need to be ready to handle that. I thought
our girls did a nice job.”

Purdue continued its solid play behind Kim Cappa, whose late
game kills shut the door on the Wolverines and allowed Purdue to
take a 2-1 lead.

Last weekend, Michigan faced a similar situation against
Wisconsin, holding a 2-1 match lead. Senior Erin Moore struggled
down the stretch and it proved to be the difference-maker for the
Badgers, as Michigan dropped the final two sets.

After the third set, Rosen once again decided to place the match
in the hands of team-leader Moore.

“She was phenomenal,” Rosen said. “That was probably the best
match I’ve ever seen her play as far as taking over for the team
and willing us to win.”

Moore was flawless the entire match, recording a career-high 28
kills and had a .467 attack percentage, playing her best in the
fourth set and leading the Wolverines to an easy 30-22 victory to
even the match 2-2.

Once again, the Wolverines found themselves in a familiar
situation, playing their third fifth set in as many weeks.

Purdue led by three early in the final set before the Wolverines
battled back to take an 11-10 lead. Freshman Danielle Pflum shook
off an earlier attack error, scoring on two consecutive plays to
give the Wolverines a 13-10 lead.

Moore capped off a career night with the game-winning kill as
the Wolverines took the third set 15-12.

For a team picked to finish seventh in the Big Ten this season
by the conference coaches, Michigan’s current second-place standing
and an undefeated road Big Ten record must feel pretty sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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