The Michigan volleyball team experienced a little déjà vu on Saturday.
That night, the Wolverines battled a tough, ranked opponent, No. 20 Purdue, through five sets only to come up empty-handed after having an early lead. It was eerily similar to Michigan’s five-set loss the night before, when the Wolverines slipped up against another tough, ranked opponent, No. 17 Illinois.
Michigan was looking for redemption against the Boilermakers in West Lafeyette after the tough loss Friday against the Fighting Illini. They came back in the first game from an early deficit to take it 25-21. During the back and-forth second set, Michigan had three straight game point opportunities before sophomore Lexi Zimmerman came up with the crucial game-ending kill to give the Wolverines a 2-0 lead.
But the momentum quickly swung back to Purdue, as the Boilermakers won the next two sets by eight and seven points, forcing a five-set match, Michigan’s forth of the season. The Wolverines led as late as 8-7 going into a TV timeout before Purdue went on a run of five straight points. Michigan never truly recovered and suffered a 15-12 loss.
“The Big Ten’s a tough conference and we were competitive, but we’re frustrated because we didn’t play well enough,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen. “We have the talent to be competitive. It wouldn’t have been close if we didn’t. It’s just a matter of us coming together in games like this.”
On Friday, Michigan was looking for revenge against the Illini, who swept the Wolverines in Ann Arbor three weeks ago. The first game featured 12 ties and five lead changes before Michigan pulled out a 25-20 victory. Illinois stormed right back with an 18-25 win in the second, but the Wolverines countered once again, holding off Illinois for the 25-21 win in game three to take a 2-1 lead.
Michigan needed to win one more game to take the match. But that was easier said than done. The Illini dominated the next game and sent it to a decisive fifth game. Michigan had four match points but couldn’t close it out, losing 24-22.
“We’ve never had a match like that,” Rosen said, “it was so close, that it was almost like a roll of a dice.”
The Wolverines match up with Northwestern next Friday in Cliff Keen Arena.