Against No. 18 Wisconsin Saturday night, the Michigan volleyball team was thrilled to see junior captain Erin Moore back in the lineup after missing one match with an ankle injury. Without its best player, Michigan was out of sync the night before in a tough loss to Northwestern. Against the Badgers and with Moore, Michigan relied on a balanced attack with four players tallying double-digit kills, but still lost 3-1 (30-26, 30-25, 25-30, 30-22).
Moore and senior Katrina Lehman totaled 13 kills each for Michigan. Junior Chantel Reedus had a team high 16 kills and sophomore Jennifer Gandolph got her 11th double-double of the season with 14 kills and 13 digs. Michigan was also without sophomore Carrie Ritchie, who missed both matches this weekend due to illness.
“With Erin in the lineup but not at 100 percent we made a conscious effort to spread the ball around,” Reedus said. “Erin draws a lot of attention and gives the other players on our team a lot of opportunities. When she is in the lineup, it takes pressure off of us.”
Michigan coach Mark Rosen was happy to see Moore sacrifice for the team and play on Saturday, even though she was not completely healthy.
“We didn’t think Erin could play either night,” Rosen said. “On Friday without her, we just didn’t have a lot of rhythm going because of the lineup changes. Erin played well but she definitely was not 100 percent. We were happy to get anything from her.”
With these two losses, Michigan’s road woes continue. While the Wolverines (4-4 Big Ten, 10-8 overall) are undefeated at home, they are just 1-7 on the road.
Michigan entered Friday’s match tied with Northwestern for third place and entered Saturday’s match tied with Wisconsin for fourth place. The two losses now leave Michigan in a fifth-place tie with Indiana and Michigan State.
“In most of our road matches, we have given up a couple points here and there, and in the end, we just couldn’t get those points back,” Rosen said. “On the road, we need to be more consistent and ready every point. For us to compete in our conference we need to beat teams on the road.”
Friday’s match against Northwestern was close as well, with the Wildcats winning 3-1 (30-28, 30-25, 28-30, 30-21). Without Moore and Ritchie, Gandolph and Reedus led the Wolverines. Gandolph had a career-high 23 kills, and Reedus had season-highs in kills with 19 and digs with 12.
“This week, our main goal is to get the team healthy,” Rosen said. “Besides Erin and Carrie, Lisa Gamalski sprained her ankle and Jennifer Gandolph pulled her hamstring. Otherwise, we need to become more consistent with our side-out offense and work on our defense.”
This weekend Michigan returns to friendly Cliff Keen Arena for home matches against Illinois on Friday and Purdue Saturday.