The Michigan women’s volleyball team clawed back some intrastate bragging rights Wednesday night — downing Michigan State, 3-1.

Michigan coach Mark Rosen called the performance a return to the Michigan of the preseason.

Wednesday marked a return to a spread offense, and the revival of both senior outside hitter Alex Hunt and redshirt junior outside hitter Claire McElheny. Hunt led the team with 17 kills and McElheny followed closely behind with 13, marking her second weekend in a row of kills in the double digits.

Hunt’s team-high 17 kills came after a scoreless last weekend due to an ankle injury sustained during a game against Minnesota two weeks ago. The team was excited to see its star return to full form.

“Last week I could only play back row and my vertical was missing because of my ankle injury,” Hunt said. “It was hard not being in the front row last week, but this week it was good to get my vertical back and be able to play on the floor all around.”

Although Michigan State took the first set, 25-19, the Wolverines managed to pull together three consecutive successful sets in which they led early and never looked back (25-20, 25-19 and 25-19).

Hunt contributed the solid all-around play to a re-found trust within the Wolverine ranks.

“I think that the whole team is really starting to trust each other,” Hunt said. “That’s been something that we started the season with, then sort of let go of. I’m excited to see how we do now that we have this trust again.”

Cliché as it may be to contribute a win to trust, it seemed to play a substantial role in the Michigan-Michigan State game.

Without trust in themselves, the Wolverines wouldn’t have been able to out-kill the top killing team in the conference.

Without trust in her teammates, freshman setter Lexi Dannemiller wouldn’t have distributed as many opportunities to score as she did.

And most importantly, without trust in each other, the front line would never have been able to match the top blocking team in the conference at 10 blocks apiece.

For Michigan to match any team in blocks is very far from the team of the preseason. Blocking has not been the Wolverines’ strong suit in years, and yet for the first time in a long time it was able to match an opponent block for block.

Luckily for the Wolverines, the Spartans also averaged the most errors per game of anyone in the Big Ten. While Michigan racked up 21 errors, a far cry from the eight against Minnesota, Michigan State notched 27.

The last time the Wolverines and the Spartans met, the score was reversed in favor of Michigan State, 3-1. After a victory like this, it begs the question, what happened last time?

“We made too many errors last time,” Rosen said. “This is not a video game. The players don’t play the same every night because there is that human factor. Last time we missed 15 serves, made 28 attack errors, and just weren’t playing very well. We played a very different match than we did last time, and when you play a different match you get a different result.”

Up until this point, all the rhetoric about forming a top team and playing the best volleyball by the end of the season has seemed like only talk. Michigan’s performance of the last few weeks has given new life to those words.

Although its been a long time coming, it seems like the Wolverines may have found some semblance of what they’ve been searching for all season.

“Coach Rosen has been telling us that you want to be playing your best volleyball at the end of the year,” McElheny said. “And I think we are definitely getting there.”

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