In a match riddled with errors and uncoordinated attacks, senior middle blocker May Pertofsky brought exactly what the Michigan volleyball team needed: consistency.
Minnesota’s blockers brought the heat and appeared to thoroughly rattle the Wolverines en route to a convincing win Friday night. Everyone, that is, except for Pertofsky. Pertofsky notched the highest hit percentage for Michigan at .438 percent and tallied eight kills — almost matching her season high of nine. Her stats were especially impressive considering the onslaught she faced from the Golden Gophers throughout the game.
“(Pertofsky) was really good,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “She had a big blocker on her. She had some pretty big blocks that she had to avoid.”
While her team struggled against blocks — allowing Minnesota to accumulate 13 — Pertofsky managed to beat all but one block, which accounted for her only attack error of the game. Every other starting hitter and blocker for the Wolverines recorded at least three attack errors.
One of Pertofsky’s biggest assets was her ability to adapt in the heat of the moment. When faced with the Gophers’ success obstructing her teammates, Pertofsky maintained her composure and worked around Minnesota’s defense.
“When you are playing a team where we’re not playing our best game, you kind of just have to stay pretty even with your attitude,” Pertofsky said. “You can’t just go up and rip as many balls as you can. You just have to play smart.”
She did exactly that in the second set, providing her team a chance to stay in the match.
A tumultuous and uncoordinated first set left Michigan shaken to start the second set as it allowed three straight Gopher points right off the bat. Then, Pertofsky showed up to reverse the momentum with a beautiful kill that left Minnesota scrambling. Her team responded to her energy boost and managed to tie the set at four apiece.
Pertofsky came up huge once again a few moments later when she notched another well-timed kill to put the Wolverines up 10-9 — their first lead of the contest. With Pertofsky setting the tone, Michigan fought for every point in the second set but ultimately couldn’t overpower the Gophers.
Although Pertofsky didn’t come out of the match with a team win, she made progress toward her own goals. She noted her connection with senior setter Maddie Dowd was better this match. She wasn’t the only one who noticed the improvement, either.
“I think that her numbers today reflect how hard she’s worked all week long,” Rosen said. “It’s always fun as a coach to see your players work on something and then put it in a match and be better at it.”
As the Wolverines look to regroup from this loss, they will continue to rely on players like Pertofsky to lead the team through the remainder of the grueling Big Ten schedule.