After a tough road stretch, the Michigan volleyball team dominated Iowa on Friday night, sweeping the Hawkeyes.
The Wolverines’ offense performed in top form, with a season-high attack average of .465 and a level of efficiency that the team had yet to see all season. Junior outside hitter Carly Skjodt led the team with 10 kills on the night and senior outside hitter Adeja Lambert followed her up with nine.
After losing 3-1 at Iowa just a few weeks prior, Michigan coach Mark Rosen and his team viewed Friday as a chance at revenge.
“I do feel like we left Iowa City not in a very good mood,” Rosen said. “We were up in that match, and they played great but we allowed them to play great, we felt, and so I think our team is very focused on that and we need to be that way every night. But I like how our team came out tonight, and it looked like we had something to prove.”
The Wolverines came out of the gate hot and, after a few long rallies and some key blocks, they led the first set, 7-5. Iowa came back quickly, however tying the game thanks to some quick side outs and Michigan errors. But after that, the first set belonged to the Wolverines. Quick attacks from redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cori Crocker, who had a total of seven kills and four blocks on the night, and a five-point service run from Skjodt. The dominating offense helped Michigan cruise to win the first set, 25-17, setting the tone for what was about to come in the following sets.
During the second set, the momentum was still clearly in the hands of the Wolverines. They were able to run attacks from almost every offensive player. Even freshman middle blocker Kiara Shannon got involved in the offense with a break out game, recording a career-high five kills.
“I think that passing was so good tonight that I had the ability to make whatever options I wanted and was just able to set whoever I wanted to,” said sophomore setter MacKenzi Welsh. “I think as a team we are hitting really well right now so whoever I set is just getting kill after kill.”
Added Rosen: “From an emotional standpoint, from a cohesive standpoint, it’s always better when you’ve got multiple people involved and can rely on each other instead of just relying on one player. This team is built that way we have a lot of really great players that are very unselfish, they play for each other and I think that they feed into that.”
Michigan steamrolled the Hawkeyes to win the second set, 25-15.
At the start of the third set, it was clear that the Wolverines still had the momentum after coming out with an early 6-3 lead. However, Iowa was determined to put up a fight. With the Wolverines unable to side-out quickly, the Hawkeyes went on a run that put them ahead, 15-14. They continued to gain momentum as they went up 22-19.
At that point it became evident that if Michigan was going to complete the sweep, their offensive leaders were going to have to go on the attack. And they did just that, with Lambert and senior middle blocker Claire Kieffer-Wright stepping up to the plate with some major kills to tie the match at 23.
After an Iowa timeout, Skjodt ran an outside attack that was ruled out of bounds however, Skjodt and the bench believed that there was a touch. Rosen decided to challenge the call, and it was overturned — giving Michigan the lead.
“I honestly didn’t think there was a touch, I thought we were calling the challenge to kind of get a quasi-timeout,” Rosen said. “… So I’m glad I trusted the bench and I’m glad we made that move because that was a big point.”
Directly after the overturned call, Kieffer-Wright and Welsh went up together on a huge double block giving Michigan the point and their first Big Ten sweep.