No. 16 Michigan made short work of intrastate rival Michigan State, sweeping the Spartans (30-21, 30-25, 30-23) in a mere one hour and 41 minutes. Emerging from the locker room after a hot and humid Cliff Keen Arena on Friday night, senior Stesha Selsky was brief in her comments regarding the win over the Spartans: “Oh, wonderful,” Selsky said.
The Wolverines (3-3 Big Ten, 15-3 overall), who swept their weekend games with a win over Northwestern (1-5, 10-7) on Sunday (30-24, 30-19, 30-22), wasted no time on Friday night, jumping out to a 14-6 lead midway through the first game. Shortly thereafter, Michigan sealed game one behind four kills from senior Lyndsay Miller and three apiece from sophomore Veronica Rood annica Rood and junior Beth Karpiak (who became the third Wolverine on the roster to surpass 500 career kills).
In game two, Michigan didn’t let down toward the end of the game – a good indication Michigan is steadily improving. Committing untimely errors toward the latter part of games has been one of Michigan’s weaknesses during its recent three-match skid. But leading 23-20, the Wolverines finished the stanza with a 7-5 run, capped by a textbook bump-set-spike from Rood to freshman Lexi Zimmerman and then back to Rood for the kill.
“We limited our errors,” Selsky said. “We are a very high-error team recently.”
Michigan State (1-5, 10-8) had communication problems all evening. More than once, a handful of Spartans simply watched the ball fall to the ground after its setter launched the ball into the air.
Two picture-perfect Zimmerman sets leading to Miller kills early in the third game made it clear that Michigan was on top of its game. After a Michigan State timeout and another point to cut the score e Spartans looked primed for a comeback. But Rood put all hopes of a comeback to rest as she put the finishing touches on a long rally with a thunderous kill.
The Temperance native, who has struggled with inconsistent play, had one of her best games of the year.
“I thought Rood was very good tonight,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “We spent a lot of time this week working on things to help her do better.”
After Rood skied for her ninth kill of the match to put Michigan up 28-23, two Michigan State attack errors ended the evening to the pleasure of a berserk, sold out Cliff Keen Arena.
“I’m just very pleased in how we played,” Rosen said. “I thought that was the best we’ve played in a while. I thought tonight was really a reflection of how hard they worked at practice all week. They were good tonight – they were really good.”
The first sellout of the year and the sixth-highest-attended match in Michigan volleyball history at Cliff Keen Arena wasn’t just due to the game. Friday night was the culmination of the Michigan Athletic Department’s nearly one year of hard work raising money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation aimed to end breast cancer. Advertised as Dig For the Cure Night, fans had the opportunity to make a pledge per dig – Michigan tallied 39. Dig For the Cure t-shirts were being sold for $10, and a silent auction for the pink game-worn Michigan jerseys took place outside the arena.
From the normally maize lines on the court to the pink polos the Michigan and Michigan State staff members wore, there was no shortage of pink at Cliff Keen.
And even Rosen couldn’t hide his emotions over beating Michigan State, especially after last year’s team was swept twice by the Spartans.
“We always say its just one of the 20 games,” Rosen said. “But it does feel good. Last year they took it to us pretty good. Our kids wanted to redeem from last year a little bit.”
No. 1 Killer: Senior Katie Bruzdzinski set the Michigan all-time record for kills yesterday (1,570). The outside hitter passed Jennifer Gandolph with 11 kills against Northwestern.
“It’s a great statement about her entire body of work – her whole career,” Rosen said through the athletic department. “She has been steady from her freshman year to her senior year and she is someone who puts up a lot of kills on a consistent basis. The payoff is a record like that. She has a lot of time to push it out of reach for the next person who might challenge it.”