In the first day of the Coke/Michigan Invitational, Michigan took its first opponent by a storm. The second game, however, was markedly more difficult.

In a lopsided first game Friday morning, the 22nd-ranked Wolverines beat Eastern Michigan with ease in straight sets. Later in the day, Michigan (11-2) met a more difficult challenge in Western Kentucky, and could not prevent the upset.

Despite being unranked, the Hilltoppers received votes in the latest AVCA poll and their strong play against the Wolverines showed why. The game began with Michigan coming out on an 8-3 run, playing perfect volleyball save for one serving error.

Western Kentucky then called a timeout and scored the next five points before junior middle blocker Jennifer Cross came up with a huge block to halt the Hilltoppers’ momentum.

From there both teams exchanged points throughout the first set, but the Wolverines ultimately pulled away winning the first set 25-22. It was the .833 kill percentage from junior outside hitter Lexi Erwin and 13 assists from sophomore setter Lexi Dannemiller that led the way. Overall, the team had a .417 kill percentage in the first set.

The second set began just as the last one ended with both teams exchanging points, but Western Kentucky found huge success from junior setter Melanie Stutsman, who had a .571 kill percentage while also adding 20 assists, and the Hilltoppers pulled ahead 13-5. From there Michigan was never able to get anything going and it dropped the set 25-14.

The .417 kill percentage from the first set was a distant memory for the Wolverines, who dropped to a .290 kill percentage in the second. From there, the number continued to plummet. In the third set, Michigan only registered a .250 kill percentage.

After being outplayed for most of the second set, the Wolverines were unable to find their early momentum and fell 25-16 in the third set despite 28 assists from Dannemiller. In the fourth set, however, Michigan came out with fire and sped out to a 7-2 start and from there they never slowed down. Behind Dannemiller’s 46 assists and junior outside hitter Molly Toon’s .389 kill percentage, the Wolverines won the set 25-23.

As with the rest of the game, the fifth set was met with competitiveness from both sides. Western Kentucky started hot, taking a 9-6 lead, but Michigan cut the lead to one before the Hilltoppers ran away with the set — and the game — 15-11.

The Wolverines finish up play Saturday against Duke.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.