The Michigan volleyball team was relaxed before its match
against Notre Dame last night. Laughing and dancing during warm-ups
and player introductions, Michigan exuded the calm confidence that
propelled it to a 2-0 lead in the match.

But midway through the third game, questionable calls shook the
Wolverines. The team began to look tired and senior Lisa Gamalski
argued with the officials about a call she didn’t like.
Michigan lost its poise and looked like it might not get it
back.

Led by the aggressive play of senior outside hitter Jennifer
Gandolph, the Wolverines (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) regained their
confidence and beat the Fighting Irish 3-1. Gandolph finished with
a season-high 26 kills and 14 digs, recording her third
double-double of the season. She is now just 12 kills away from
breaking Michigan’s all-time record.

After Michigan took a 14-13 lead in game four, Notre Dame went
on a 7-3 run to take the lead 21-17. Both teams committed attack
errors to keep the game close until a Michigan service error gave
Notre Dame a 27-24 lead. That was when Gandolph took control. She
recorded her 22nd kill of the match to pull Michigan within one.
Notre Dame had a match point at 30-29, but Gandolph responded once
again to tie the match. On the final point, Gandolph recorded her
eighth kill of the game and gave Michigan the 32-30 win.

“It’s one of the best demonstrations that
she’s given us of just taking over a game,” Michigan
coach Mark Rosen said. “She said to Gamalski, ‘Give me
the ball. I want the ball.’ Gamalski got her the ball, and
Gandolph took care of it.”

Michigan led through the first half of game one until Notre Dame
took an 18-17 lead off a Wolverine attack error. But Michigan went
on a 4-0 run and took a 22-18 lead it would not give up, winning
game one, 30-23.

Game two was close early, but Michigan pulled ahead 7-6 on a
hard-fought point and did not relinquish its lead. The Wolverines
won 30-25.

“In both games one and two, we were really steady,”
Rosen said. “We played right with them, and kind of went back
and forth until we just kind of pulled ahead. We were a little more
consistent.”

Like the beginning of game two, Michigan and Notre Dame went
back and forth to start game three. But this time, the Irish pulled
ahead, exuding the same confidence that Michigan had before the
match. When Notre Dame took a 25-23 lead off a disputed line call,
Michigan players and coaches became emotional and seemed to lose
their focus.

“I thought we got a little bit rattled,” Rosen said.
“We just got pulled out of our game a little bit. We started
doing things out of the system and not really playing our
game.”

Initially, Michigan was unable to regain its composure, and
Notre Dame won game three 30-27. But the Wolverines came back in
the fourth game, holding Notre Dame to a .179 hitting percentage
and recording 22 kills.

“At the end of the game, they didn’t really make
errors,” Gandolph said. We got kills and made digs. I think
we stepped up the defense a little bit. We ended on our terms and
not theirs.”

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