According to Chinese culture, three is a lucky number.
It’s been good fortune for the Michigan volleyball team this year as well.
The Wolverines grabbed their third tournament of the year this weekend, winning 3-0 at the Pepsi Challenge in Ann Arbor.
The team improved to 9-0–its third consecutive season with that starting mark.
“We just played well enough to win this weekend,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “At times we played very well, but sometimes we just gave away too many points.”
Two kills from senior middle back Beth Karpiak helped the Wolverines jump out to a quick 5-1 lead against Auburn Saturday night.
Karpiak had a stellar weekend, earning All-Tournament honors with sophomore setter Lexi Zimmerman for the third straight invitational.
“I just tried to maximize my kills this weekend and limit my errors,” she said.
The Tigers held it close for a while in the first frame, but the Michigan offensive attack proved to be too much as the Wolverines won, 25-17.
Sophomore setter Lexi Zimmerman led the way with four kills and 11 assists.
The Wolverines found themselves in a dogfight in the second set. They struggled to get into a rhythm, exchanging points with the Tigers throughout the game. Auburn won the set 25-22.
Conditions inside Cliff Keen Arena were extremely humid Saturday night, which seemed to be an issue for both teams, especially the Wolverines.
Michigan came out of the locker room sporting their white tops instead of their normal blue jerseys before the third set.
“In the second set, I think we were a little distracted by the floor,” Rosen said. “Football teams sometimes have to play in a driving rainstorm. We needed to just play through a little dampness on the floor.”
Michigan controlled much of the third set, forcing the Tigers into a timeout at 21-13. Auburn pulled back within one point, but then Michigan outside hitter Veronica Rood capped off the set with a monster kill from the right side of the court.
Zimmerman blasted 12 kills and dished out 45 assists to help lead the Michigan charge past the Auburn Tigers, 3-1.
Michigan convincingly swept its other other two matches this past weekend, against Toledo and Oakland.
Michigan needs three more wins to start the season 12-0 for the third consecutive year, but those victories won’t come easy.
With Big Ten competition less than two weeks away, Rosen said the upcoming weekend’s games against Albany and Arizona State will be a great warm up for his young Wolverine squad.
“Western Kentucky is as good as any team we have played so far,” Rosen said. “Albany plays more of a defensive style and they, too, have some legitimate athletes. And then, Arizona State has a new coach and they’re always looking to knock off a Big Ten school so it should be a good weekend.”