It’s no secret that momentum always plays a role in any
sport. The Michigan volleyball team found that out this weekend,
opening the weekend on Friday night with a three-game sweep of
Iowa, and then falling 3-0 Saturday night against Minnesota.

Janna Hutz
Senior Nicole Poquette, along with Erin Moore, helped the Wolverines jump to an early lead against Iowa on Friday. The Wolverines were swept by Minnesota on Saturday. (JOEL FRIEDMAN/Daily)

On Friday, Iowa ran with the Wolverines (10-8 Big Ten, 18-11
overall) in the first game until seniors Nicole Poquette and Erin
Moore won three consecutive points to break a tie, bringing the
momentum to the Wolverines’ side. This momentum helped the
Wolverines to an early lead in game two. At one point, Michigan
opened up a 10-point lead.

The kill from Moore inspired the Wolverines as they entered game
three. Sophomore Erin Cobler had two consecutive kills, sandwiched
by one from Moore and two from senior Lisa Gamalski, which sent the
Wolverines on a 16-3 run.

Cobler closed the match out with three kills in four points,
giving the Wolverines a 30-10 victory in game three.

At points this season, Michigan has had trouble gaining and
taking advantage of momentum. Establishing its presence early
became a priority during practice this past week.

“We’ve been talking a lot this week about coming out
and starting quicker,” coach Mark Rosen said.
“Especially defensively, I think we did a really good job
with that, but I really liked the way we finished
tonight.”

Rosen understood that they would need Friday’s momentum to
carry over to Saturday, as second-place Minnesota was coming into
town.

“Our goal has to be to come out and perform as we did
tonight against a more physical team,” said Rosen after
Friday’s game.

Moore was pleased with the victory Friday, but was also wary of
the Golden Gophers looming just 24 hours away. She was confident
that they could run with Minnesota after taking them to four games
earlier in the season.

The Wolverines used momentum from Friday, and their previous
performance at Minnesota, to come out firing on all cylinders. The
first game was tied at 22 before Minnesota made a small push to
take a three-point lead. Michigan made a run of its own after a
timeout, but the Gophers held on to a 27-25 lead and captured a
30-26 victory in game one.

The second game ended with the same score, and a similar tone.
The teams traded points throughout the entire game. Michigan even
took a one-point lead on a blistering service ace from Cobler, but
after Minnesota called a timeout, it was able to rebuild its
momentum to win again.

In the final game, Minnesota took advantage of the momentum it
had built at the end of games one and two.

The Gophers’ defense, anchored by sophomore All-American
Paula Gentil, held strong. Not even two thunderous spikes, one each
from Moore and junior Jennifer Gandolph could slow
Minnesota’s offense, as it built a 19-11 lead.

After Michigan’s second timeout, it was able to put
together a five-point run to pull within three, but a Minnesota
timeout neutralized Michigan’s newfound momentum, and the
Gophers finished with a 30-20 victory to earn the sweep.

Rosen attributes the shift in momentum to frustration on
Michigan’s part.

“Emotionally we got a little frustrated and the game went
the other way,” Rosen said.

The Wolverines will prepare to face Illinois Friday in
Champaign, Ill., and Northwestern Saturday in Evanston, Ill.

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