The Michigan women’s volleyball team had its best performance of the season Saturday night, but that wasn’t enough to defeat No. 1 Nebraska.
The Wolverines fell to the Cornhuskers in three games (30-22, 30-19, 30-21) at the Sports Imports Invitational in Columbus dropping to 0-3 for the season.
Michigan proved resilient against the nation’s top team, evident by its unwillingness to back down when trailing.
Down 2-0 in the match and 18-8 in the third game, the Wolverines rallied back — thanks to senior Megan Bowman’s five kills — before eventually losing 30-21.
The Wolverines fell behind early in the second game and trailed 20-10 at one point before sophomore Lyndsay Miller’s three straight kills sparked a 5-0 Michigan rally that helped pull the team within seven, 23-16. But a 7-3 Nebraska run put an end to any chance of a Wolverine comeback.
The beginning of the match was promising for Michigan. The Wolverines surprised the Cornhuskers out of the gates and led throughout the first half of the first game until Nebraska tied it up at 18. Thanks to a .409 hitting percentage, the Cornhuskers ran away with a 12-4 run to finish it off.
Junior Danielle Pflum led the team in kills with her season-best of 12 while Miller added nine of her own.
“(Michigan coach Mark Rosen) said he did this for a reason and (the game) showed us how (good) we can be,” junior Danielle Pflum said. “If we play how we played against Nebraska, specifically in the Big Ten tournament, the title is ours.”
Michigan fared better against the Cornhuskers than two of its Big Ten counterparts. No. 6 Minnesota and No. 12 Ohio State have both lost to Nebraska and neither team was able to score 20 points in a single game.
On Friday night, the Wolverines dropped their first game of the tournament to No. 24 Long Beach State. Sophomore Katie Bruzdzinski had a team-high 13 kills while Miller tacked on 10 kills in the three-game loss (30-20, 33-31, 30-25).
In the second game of the match, Michigan trailed early, but Pflum’s seven kills helped the Wolverines take a 28-27 lead after a Bowman block with help from senior Erin Cobler. Michigan had an opportunity to win the game, but the 49ers tied it up at 29 and would eventually take the game 33-31.
The Wolverines looked to be on track to win their first of the season until they lost the lead at 15-14 and never gained it back.
The Wolverines are far from the same start they had last season — Michigan won its first eight games and 14 of its first 16 last year — but Rosen believes that the team is much better than what its record indicates. At the same time, Rosen is a little disappointed that his team hasn’t been able to win games.
“Certainly I’m not pleased with not winning matches,” Rosen said. “From that standpoint, I’m disappointed. Because I think our team is very good, and I think we’ll be able to compete with anybody as the year goes on.
“We’re a very young team, and we have to keep that in perspective. So I’m a little torn both ways: I do like the direction we’re going and the progression we’ve made, but I’m not satisfied by any means.”