The Michigan volleyball team notched kill after kill in a sweep of Bowling Green on Sunday, and junior outside hitter Jess Mruzik was the deadliest on the court.
Mruzik led both teams in kills with 13 — nearly doubling the Falcon’s kill leader Kat Mandly. Junior outside hitter Kendall Murray and senior middle blocker Jess Robinson were close on her heels with 11 and 10, respectively.
Last season, Mruzik led the team in points with 446 and co-led the team in kills with 389. She is on track for an equally strong season after tallying 131 kills in the first 10 games this season.
One of Mruzik’s strengths is her aggressiveness. She already has two double-doubles on the season. Against Bowling Green, she recorded eight digs — the most of any hitter or blocker — and consistently attacked the ball, racking up an impressive 33 total attacks.
Mruzik was quick to credit her teammates for her success:
“Having great people around me that are offensive threats all around makes my life a lot easier,” she said. “I wouldn’t be as aggressive or go after it so hard if these guys didn’t as well.”
Michigan coach Mark Rosen also considers the collective offensive ability of the team to be a key factor for the success of any individual player such as Mruzik.
“I thought they came out and went after us pretty aggressively, but I love how our team stayed composed and handled that really well,” Rosen said. “I think it’s hard for them to stop when we have a lot of hitters that are contributing.”
The opportunity for multiple hitters to have an impact on the game comes in part from Mruzik’s ability to wear down the opposing team. Her ferocious strikes on consecutive plays kept the Falcons scrambling, allowing her teammates to attack and strike their own ruthless kills.
Off the court, Mruzik’s leadership style mimics her play style. And again, she credits her teammate’s chemistry with much of her success as a leader.
“I feel like I am that aggressive kind of pushing people leader,” she said. “I think it’s great that the people on the court and on the team really balance each other out really well.”
Mruzik made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in her first season with the Wolverines and received First Team All-Big Ten Honors after her breakout sophomore season. This year, she is ready to showcase her offensive prowess and lead Michigan through the Big Ten season — starting this Friday against Rutgers.
“(The Big Ten) is the best conference for volleyball for a reason,” Mruzik said. “We’re really prepared, and I think we’re all ready to just get after it and go into the match with a clear mind and really compete this season.”