There was only one thing that could make senior Katrina Lehman feel better than getting a win in her last match at Cliff Keen Arena – an NCAA Tournament berth.

Lehman and the Michigan women’s volleyball team got it last night, landing an improbable spot in the tournament after splitting its last two matches last weekend.

After dropping their match with No. 15 Wisconsin on Friday, the Wolverines needed a win Saturday to stay alive. They used a tried and true formula – stay away from the other team’s star – to perfection in defeating Northwestern and middle blocker Erika Lange 3-1 on senior night. Lehman and sophomore Carrie Ritchie gave the 1,023 fans at Cliff Keen Arena something to cheer about.

“I was really happy that our last match here we were able to pull off a win,” Lehman said.

Michigan’s game plan hinged on matching Lehman up with Lange, one of the Big Ten’s best blockers. Lange had just one and a half blocks on the night, and Michigan out-blocked the Wildcats 15-8. Revenge was also on the Wolverines’ minds, since the team lost 3-1 to the Wildcats earlier in the season.

Michigan jumped out to a quick 13-5 lead in the first game, as Northwestern struggled to find its rhythm. Michigan’s Ritchie proved to be the hot server, using her jump serve to attack Northwestern’s back line defense.

Ritchie rolled off five straight points, targeting the Wildcats’ defensive specialist.

“She seemed to get in a little bit of trouble, so we tried to go after it,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said.

Bad passing by the Wildcats led to easy points for the Wolverines, and Michigan exposed the soft middle defense of Northwestern to take the first game 30-23.

The second game proved to be a reversal of fortunes, as Michigan’s offense struggled early. Northwestern found some success defensively, finally getting some blocks and building a 17-13 lead. Michigan fought back behind Ritchie’s serving once again, but made crucial mistakes down the stretch to drop the game 30-27.

Michigan started to attack the middle front of the Northwestern defense early in game three, and it paid off. The Wolverines got Lange to respect the middle, then used fakes to the middle to attack the outside. This created one-on-one opportunities outside, and resulted in Michigan getting some crucial points.

Even setter Lisa Gamalski got into the act, out-jumping Lange for an important ball and winning the point.

In the deciding game, Michigan took control early and played with the intensity needed to save its season. Lehman came up with some huge points up the middle against Lange and capped a big night by knocking a kill right through Lange for a 23-17 lead that the Wolverines would not relinquish.

The star of the night, though, was Ritchie who had crucial kills in addition to her almost untouchable serving. The team seemed to pick it up whenever Ritchie was starting things off.

“I think that for anybody who gets to serve and gets an ace, it’s a big momentum builder,” Ritchie said. “It’s a good rallying point for any team.”

Ritchie served out game four to close out the match, but the night wasn’t over yet.

Lehman was honored after the game for her four years as a starter, and there weren’t many dry eyes on the sideline as she spoke about her time at Michigan. Lehman will leave Michigan with the most blocks in the history of the program.

“She’s been such an integral part of our offense and defense,” Rosen said. “She’s definitely going to be missed.”

Lehman did not feel much emotion during the game, though.

“Actually I was really into the match tonight,” Lehman said.

“I didn’t think much about this (being) my last time ever being here.”

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