At this point in the season, the Michigan volleyball team (8-10 Big Ten, 12-13 overall) will not settle for moral victories of any sort. Back to back losses at No. 14 Penn State on Friday and No. 9 Ohio State on Saturday did nothing to help the Wolverines in their campaign to make the playoffs.
“As a competitive player or competitive coach you”re never happy when you lose,” coach Mark Rosen said. “You never want to settle for moral victories.”
After a grueling, back and forth, five-game match against Penn State on Friday, Michigan traveled to Ohio State to exact revenge on the Buckeyes. Earlier this season, Ohio State played spoiler to Michigan”s perfect record at home. This weekend was the Wolverines” opportunity for payback.
But for Michigan to defeat the Buckeyes, it would have had to play better than it did in the first game.
“In the first game we came out and struggled early,” Rosen said.
The Wolverines were only able to score six kills in the first game, which resulted in their lowest offensive output of the season as they fell 30-13. The five attack errors Michigan committed all but wiped out the few kills it had been able to score.
The Wolverines learned from their mistakes and played much better in the second game. They were able to stay with Ohio State for most of the game, as the teams were deadlocked at 22. But here, the Wolverines began to make mistakes, and the Buckeyes capitalized.
“(Ohio State) did the same thing they did to us when we played in (Ann Arbor),” Rosen said. “If you make a mistake they jump all over you.”
The Buckeyes quickly took the lead and finished off the Wolverines 30-25.
The third game was almost a mirror of the second. After the intermission, it was the Wolverines who were able to break out of a tie to win the game. One of the keys to Michigan”s success was its ability to limit its errors to three for the game. The greatly-reduced errors and the much-improved offensive attack sparked the Wolverines to a 30-26 victory in game three.
After the game-three loss, the Buckeyes entered game four with renewed focus, and desire. Ohio State quickly jumped out to an early 5-1 lead that the Wolverines were unable to overcome.
“You can”t comeback from that, against a team like Ohio State,” Rosen said.
The fourth game saw the Wolverines again held under 20 points as the Buckeyes surged to a 30-19 victory. The disappointment of the 3-1 loss to the Buckeyes eclipsed any happiness over a moral victory the team might have achieved.
“It is hard to be happy when you don”t win,” Rosen said. “I do think we played better on the road this weekend than we have in the past.”
The Wolverines played Penn State on Friday night in a marathon five-game match. The teams traded games back and forth in an evenly matched competition. In the fifth game though, the Nittany Lions senior captain, Katie Schumacher stepped up big for Penn State.
“The biggest difference in the fifth game was Katie Schumacher,” Rosen said. “She took over the game.”