STATE COLLEGE – Game three. Match point.
Penn State’s Megan Hodge, the top-ranked Nittany Lions’ best attacker, was one kill away from advancing her team to its fourth NCAA regional finals appearance in six seasons.
But senior Lyndsay Miller had an answer.
Exploding off the floor, open hands high above the net, Miller rivaled Hodge’s powerful swing with a stuff that propelled the Ida native to the top of the Michigan record books.
The senior co-captain waited until Michigan’s last-minute run of the match to begin her string of blocks, but the result was well worth the wait.
With her third block of the night, Miller slid into first place on Michigan’s all-time career-blocking list (473). She moved ahead of former Wolverine Katrina Lehman’s 472 career blocks set in 2002.
“It’s really cool because there are some really good players (on the list),” Miller said. “It’s an honor to be associated with them and to be in the same category.”
Miller’s defensive breakout came late in the game as the Wolverines struggled against the Penn State attack for much of the match. The Nittany Lions finished the night with 48 kills and a .384 attack percentage.
Senior trifecta: When seniors Katie Bruzdzinski, Stesha Selsky and Miller walked off the court at Rec Hall Friday, they wrote the final chapter of their storied Wolverine careers.
As far as numbers are concerned, the trio is the best Michigan has ever seen.
With Miller’s record-setting night, Bruzdzinski, Selsky and Miller stand atop the Michigan career kills, digs and blocks list, respectively.
“Our senior class has been great,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “(Bruzdzinski and Miller) have had great careers and also developed into great leaders.”
Even though it finished the 2007 campaign with its strongest finish in history, this senior class has proven itself on the court every season.
Selsky and Miller each leave tied with the most career games played (131) while donning the Maize and Blue. Bruzdzinski falls one game behind the duo with 130 career appearances.
This season marks the highest single-season win total (24) for Rosen in his nine seasons at Michigan, and much of that can be attributed to the consistent play of his seniors.
“I’ve enjoyed every day with this team,” Rosen said. “Not being able to go into the gym tomorrow is the hardest thing for me. They’re a great group.”
Passing in the fast lane: Freshman setter Lexi Zimmerman has been passing well for the Wolverines all season.
The Barrington, Ill., native has started every game this season and established herself as a powerful setter.
“Lexi has been progressing throughout the year,” Rosen said. “I think she’s playing her best volleyball right now.”
Zimmerman entered Rec Hall as the Big Ten leader in assists and fueled the Wolverines’ attack Friday with 22 helpers. She made consistent passes throughout the night and gave the Wolverines hope against Penn State’s powerful defense.
With an assist on a Bruzdzinski kill late in game two, Zimmerman posted her 15th helper of the night, making her Michigan’s single-season assist leader.
Zimmerman has quickly risen to the top as one of the best setters in Michigan history – and with three years left, the Wolverines are looking good for the future.