It was a record-setting weekend.
That’s the only way to describe the Michigan volleyball action over the weekend. Three individual milestones were reached as the Wolverines split a pair of road matches and some of their young players stepped up. Michigan (9-9 Big Ten, 19-10 overall) went .500 on the weekend with a tough loss at Wisconsin and an overpowering victory at Northwestern.
It started on Friday in Madison, where the Wolverines lost to the Badgers — a result that has become all too familiar. Michigan has now lost 17 consecutive matches to Wisconsin, leaving coach Mark Rosen winless against the formidable Badgers squad.
“We don’t really look at who we’ve beat and who we haven’t,” Rosen said. “We didn’t play very well against Wisconsin. We had opportunities to win that match and couldn’t do it, but next time we play them, we’ll give them our best effort and hopefully come out on top.”
Although Michigan failed to overpower Wisconsin (11-6, 17-8) yet again, the Wolverines left Madison with some individual achievements.
Sophomore Megan Bowman’s four blocks propelled her into 11th place all-time in blocks at Michigan with 272, while freshman Stesha Selsky recorded nine digs, setting a school record for digs in a season by a freshman with 303.
The Wolverines lost in three straight games to the Badgers (24-30, 29-31, 25-30), but didn’t go down without a fight. After coming out flat, Michigan started to show some life in the second game. Despite falling behind early yet again, the Wolverines rebounded to tie the game at nine and went on to take their first lead of the match thanks to Wisconsin errors and one of Bowman’s seven kills. The Badgers promptly tied things up, and the teams continued to exchange points for the rest of the game. Michigan freshman Katie Bruzdzinski led the effort, recording three of her 11 kills. Eventually, Wisconsin finished it off with two straight points to take a 2-0 lead.
The Wolverines never truly recovered from game two, as they desperately fought to mount a comeback, but couldn’t do so in the final game.
On Saturday, the Wolverines ventured south to Evanston for an easier opponent in Northwestern. The Wildcats (3-15, 8-20) compensated for the Wolverines’ loss the previous night, going down easily in three straight games (30-21, 30-26, 30-20).
The match began slowly, with Northwestern going step-for-step with Michigan, leading to an initial 6-6 tie. Bruzdzinski then injected some life into her team with a pair of quick kills to spark a 4-0 run. Bruzdzinski later added three more kills to propel Michigan to the game one victory.
The Wolverines held a steady attack and shut down Northwestern throughout the final two games to even their Big Ten record at 9-9.
Senior Lisa Gamalski collected nine digs for Michigan, pushing her career total to 931. This was enough to move her into eighth place on the all-time digs list and leaves her just eight shy of seventh place. Another one of the Wolverines’ accomplishments was freshman Lyndsay Miller’s seven blocks, which increased her season total to 134. Miller moved into fourth place for single-season blocks as a freshman.
Bruzdzinski led Michigan attackers with 15 kills and increased her season total to 302, second place all-time by a freshman. This milestone leaves her ready to pounce on the standing kills record by a freshman (340) held by current senior Jennifer Gandolph. Bruzdzinski didn’t pay much attention to her personal feat. She was just happy to have won the match.
“Actually, I don’t really think about it that much when I’m playing,” Bruzdzinski said. “Its great that I’m getting there, but it’s just not a big deal.”
But Bruzdzinski isn’t ready to take all the credit. She realizes that the veteran players have a tremendous impact, even if it isn’t always apparent in the statistics.
“The underclassmen have done a good job of playing how we have to play in the Big Ten,” Bruzdzinski said. “We keep getting better. But the seniors do a great job of being the great leaders and heading our attack.”