Freshman Carly Skjodt and senior Lindsey Lerg stepped up big when the Michigan volleyball team needed them most Thursday, continuing the work they have done the past few matches.
Following the loss of senior libero Tiffany Morales in the Sept. 30 match to Michigan State, Michigan coach Mark Rosen looked at Lerg to fill the gap. One game later, in a repeat match against the Spartans, Rosen suffered yet another setback as sophomore outside hitter Caroline Knop was lost to injury. Rosen went to Skjodt, a true freshman, to take her place.
Since then, the two have been excellent, as was evident in the win over Maryland (0-8 Big Ten, 10-12 overall).
Thursday, Skjodt registered nine kills, 14 digs and a service ace to help the Wolverines throughout the entire match.
No part of the match was more important than late in the first set. Down 20-18 following a Maryland timeout, Skjodt had back-to-back kills to tie the set at 20. Skjodt proceeded for two more kills, totaling five in the set, to lead Michigan (5-3, 16-4) to a 25-22 victory.
Lerg was critical as well, leading both teams with 17 digs on the night. Many of them occurred in one of the long, game-defining rallies.
Since the loss of Morales, Lerg has started five consecutive games for the Wolverines and has started six in total. Skjodt, Michigan’s leading blocker, has started four straight games, including the first start of her career. Skjodt also led the Wolverines in their attack in games at Iowa and Nebraska.
The extensive injuries have not only affected Lerg and Skjodt. Rather, they have shifted the entire team into new positions. Junior Abby Cole, traditionally a middle blocker, has had to move to the outside in order to accommodate the losses. Cole has still managed to keep up her normal, impressive stat lines, registering five digs and a game-leading 18 kills in the victory.
“We’re just really relying on our chemistry as a team and making sure that we’re getting comfortable,” Cole said. “We’re not trying to do anything too crazy right now, but our line is certainly changed. We’re just adjusting and getting comfortable as we go,”
Cole also complimented sophomore Claire Kieffer-Wright and senior Krystalyn Goode, who have stepped up and moved around with the injuries.
Despite the injuries, Rosen still thinks the team has the depth to be able to adapt and be ready to go. Based on the Wolverines’ performance against the Terrapins, it certainly seems that Michigan has found a successful way to formulate depth to create a winning lineup.