There was a silver lining for the Michigan volleyball team, despite losing a heartbreaker against No. 17 Purdue (1-1 Big Ten, 11-2 overall) on Sunday.

Freshman libero Tiffany Morales emerged as a defensive force, diving on the court for 17 digs.

Sophomore Jennifer Cross and fifth-year senior Claire McElheny were other bright spots, and each recorded 14 kills. Junior Molly Toon contributed 13 kills and junior Lexi Erwin had 12. Erwin finished off the night with a double-double, but it was the freshman Morales who, with her defense, led the Wolverines the entire way.

“We were going to go out playing our game,” Morales said. “We want to run our offense and our defense and have our tenacity.”

Morales proved to be a defensive anchor for the Wolverines (1-1, 13-3), and she led the squad to a comeback victory on the third set. Morales steered the Wolverines in two major rallies. When it looked as if Michigan would lose the point, Morales dove deep into the backcourt for a save, and the crowd erupted.

She had even more digs in the fourth set, bringing her total to 13, but Michigan’s offensive game was nowhere to be seen. The last set was no different, with Morales finishing the night up 17 digs, but Michigan ultimately came up short.

“Lexi (Dannemiller) and I want to win the serve and pass game,” Morales said. “It’s very tough and they were a good team and we definitely passed well all night.”

Ultimately, Morales’s stellar play was soured by the Michigan loss. The team, though, kept its composure the entire match. Maturity was not a problem here, the Boilermakers just proved to be too overwhelming for the Wolverines. Michigan will have another chance at Purdue in late October in West Lafayette. The Wolverines will take on Iowa on Friday to try to improve their record to 14-3.

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