Wednesday night was filled with fun and frustration at Cliff Keen Arena. The crowd of nearly 1,500, mostly families from the local community, were enjoying the night before Thanksgiving with a fun sports outing. The Michigan volleyball team hosted the players’ families as part of a parents’ night, where parents escorted their players before the game.
Yet the frustration was also there.
Just two days after being swept at Purdue, the No. 22 Michigan volleyball team (19-9 overall, 12-6 Big Ten) returned home to play the No. 16 Boilermakers (20-7 overall, 12-6 Big Ten) with renewed vigor. After fighting hard to get a fifth set, the Wolverines were unable to capitalize on four separate match points within the set. Finally, a missed dig on the Michigan side gave Purdue the final point it needed to seal their victory, winning the fifth set 20-18.
Errors like these were the bane of the Wolverines’ success throughout the night. In the first set, Michigan led by as much as five points before letting Purdue catch up. The Boilermakers ended up winning the first set, 26-24, and easily captured the second, 25-17.
But the Wolverines were unfazed. They came back from the extended break to take the third set, 25-20.
“Our team has worked on how to be better after that break,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen. “… So they’re talking about things that they see on the court.”
The Wolverines used that momentum, and number of well-placed kills, to take the fourth set, 25-20, putting themselves into position for a strong final set. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize in the end, and Purdue took the set, 20-18.
Sophomore outside hitter Paige Jones ended the night with a career-high 27 kills. Senior setter MacKenzi Welsh ended with 55 assists, making it her 23rd career game with over 50 assists. The most unexpected performance came from senior opposite hitter Katarina Glavinic, who made her 17th career start in place of freshman middle blocker May Pertofsky, who was a consistant starter. Glavinic ended with seven kills and five blocks, taking the opportunity to play and running with it.
“(Glavinic) hasn’t really had a chance,” Rosen said. “… Tonight we knew that we were going to have to make a change in our lineup. She was ready, she’s been working hard, so I’m just proud of her for being ready.”
Michigan, who began the season ranked No. 15 in the AVCA Top 25, has lost to ranked teams seven times throughout the season and had dropped out of the rankings for a number of weeks. The Wolverines are expected to make the NCAA Tournament, but where they will be seeded is unclear. Rosen, however, is unconcerned about the rankings going into the postseason.
“That’s something we can’t control,” Rosen said. “All we can do is control how we play.”