With seven teams in the Big Ten ranked in the top-25, early wins are important to competing for a conference championship.
And after the Michigan volleyball team’s 3-1 victory on Friday over Indiana, it is priming itself to make a run for a title.
The Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 13-2 overall) took advantage of three players with double-digit kills, winning 25-19, 16-25, 25-20, 25-21.
Junior outside hitter Lexi Erwin once again led the Wolverines, but it was fifth-year senior right side hitter Claire McElheny who stole the spotlight. McElheny made her first start since the end of August, and ended with 10 kills and four blocks.
Falling behind 2-0 in the first set, Michigan used a 6-0 run that began with a kill from McElheny and was capped by Erwin’s kill. After the teams went back-and-forth, the Wolverines put together a 3-0 run and then a 5-0 run, highlighted by two kills form Erwin.
A member of the first-team All-Big Ten in 2011, Erwin finishied with 13 kills, 11 digs and four blocks on the night.
The pace for the remainder of the first set slowed down, but a well placed tip from junior outside hitter Molly Toon and an Indiana attack error ended the set.
The second set was an anomaly in a solid night for the Wolverines. Tied at six, the Hoosiers went on a 5-0 run, as Michigan was unable to handle the strong serving of Indiana outside hitter, Jordan Haverly. The Wolverines fought back to tie the game at 12 on a McElheny kill, though. Both teams traded points before the Hoosiers went on a 6-0 run that put the set out of reach.
Michigan finished with a .093 attack percentage in the second set, despite finishing with just six errors — one less than set one’s total.
Neither team could gain momentum early in set three until a small 3-0 run from Indiana made the score 15-10. The Wolverines responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a McElheny kill, forcing Indiana to take a timeout. The Hoosiers never came within two points, though, as Michigan ended the set on a Toon kill.
Toon had 10 kills on the night, bringing her season total to 117. Junior middle blocker Jennifer Cross also added seven kills while tallying six blocks.
The Wolverines took the first three points of the fourth set before Indiana began a back-and-forth battle. Michigan’s lead never stretched more than four points, until the end, when Cross ended the game with a block.
Sophomore setter Lexi Dannemiller had yet another strong outing, ending the night with 35 assists and 11 digs. Freshman libero Tiffany Morales led the team in digs with 17.
Michgan continues its homestand Saturday against No. 17 Purdue.