Michigan fans didn’t have many reasons to cheer this weekend.
But that wasn’t the case at Cliff Keen Arena on Friday and Saturday night.
The No. 20 Michigan volleyball team upset No. 11 Minnesota 25-21 in all three sets Saturday.
“We just focused on playing our best and sticking to the basics,” junior outside hitter Juliana Paz said.
Midway through the first set, the Wolverines held a comfortable 17-10 lead and all the momentum before two disputed calls that brought a barrage of boos from The Zone, the volleyball student section.
Both Michigan coach Mark Rosen and his assistant coach, Lisa Rosen, jumped out of their chairs and voiced their displeasure with the referees.
“Knowing that Mark and Lisa have our backs and are willing to fight for calls is great,” sophomore setter Lexi Zimmerman said.
Some teams might have been flustered by the turn of events, but not the Wolverines.
“We just try not to worry about the things we can’t control,” Paz said.
Despite the controversy, Michigan continued to roll.
Zimmerman led the way with 10 assists in the frame while Paz contributed four kills of her own, jumping up and down with excitement after every kill.
After taking a 24-18 lead, the Wolverines had a difficult time closing out Minnesota.
The Gophers fought off three set points to cut the lead to 24-21. But the Wolverines came through to pull out the set, 25-21.
Michigan found itself in the same position during the second frame.
The Wolverines had match point, and Minnesota fought off three set points. A service error finally gave Michigan the win.
Match points have been a difficult spot for the Wolverines in the last few weeks, but Rosen isn’t concerned.
“When a team is in that situation, they are going to play really aggressive because they are close to losing the set,” Rosen said. “We just have to expect that as a team.”
Minnesota came out of the locker room looking like it meant business, practicing setting and serving between the second and third sets, while the Wolverines looked relaxed and confident on the bench.
But that proved to be no help, as Michigan won the third and final frame 25-21.
Paz had a team-high 16 kills on the night, while Zimmerman added 31 assists. Zimmerman has scored at least 30 assists in 19 games this season.
On Friday night, the Wolverines pulled off an easy win against an outmatched Iowa team.
Michigan made quick work of the Hawkeyes, winning 3-0 (27-25, 25-18, 25-23).
Senior Beth Karpiak had 14 kills and freshman Sloane Donhoff had 10 digs in the win.
The Wolverines hope to continue their winning ways on the road next weekend when they head to Illinois and Purdue, two teams just ahead of them in the national rankings.