American general George Patton once said, “Success is how high you bounce after you hit bottom.”
The Michigan women’s volleyball team found out what Patton meant this weekend. Friday, the Wolverines fell to No. 20 Purdue, 3-0, and they were outblocked, 9-2. On Saturday, however, Michigan rebounded to defeat Indiana, 3-1.
“We were going to see what our team was made of coming off a tough loss (Friday night),” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen.
Against the Boilermakers, the first set featured a back-and-forth that left the score tied at 23. But a kill by Purdue’s Danielle Cuttino and an attack error by Michigan sophomore outside hitter Adeja Lambert gave Purdue the final leg up in its 25-23 victory.
“The first set was an unbelievable volleyball set,” Rosen said. “Both teams were just going back and forth. For us to side out at 75 percent and lose, that’s amazing. It just means the game is playing so purely.”
The second set began much like the first, as Michigan found itself clinging to a 12-10 lead. But Purdue proceeded to go on a 5-0 run to give itself the upper hand once again, which the Boilermakers did not relinquish in their 25-19 win.
Purdue continued its winning ways in the third set when it went on a 6-1 run en route to a 25-18 victory.
Despite the loss, there were bright spots for the Wolverines.
Lambert ended the night with 14 kills, surpassing her previous season high of 13. Freshman setter Maddy Abbott notched two service aces and 18 assists.
“I’ve been working on my out-of-systems shot in practice and just being an all around better player,” Lambert said. “Whatever I can do to help my team out, that’s my goal.”
Saturday, it was clear that Michigan wasn’t the same team that had lost the night before.
In the first set against the Hoosiers, the Wolverines opened up a 14-8 advantage before allowing Indiana three unanswered points. Then junior middle blocker Abby Cole came up with a kill, which stunted the Hoosiers’ momentum as Michigan triumphed, 25-16.
“The first set was outstanding,” Rosen said. “We jumped out and blocked really well, and blocking is a big focus point for us.”
At first, it appeared that the Wolverines would continue their success with a seven-point lead. But Indiana stormed back with an 8-0 run. Luckily for Michigan, freshman Carly Skjodt stopped the bleeding with a kill.
The damage had already been done, though, as the set went back and forth before a shot by Skjodt landed just out of bounds to give the Hoosiers a 25-23 win.
“We got complacent,” Rosen said. “This team has in no way earned the right to be complacent, not that any team has. We’re not far along (enough) in our development for that.”
The heartbreak proved to be an aberration, as Michigan held Indiana to a -.032 hitting percentage in set number three. Led by Cole’s five kills, the Wolverines topped the Hoosiers 25-14.
Cole and Michigan continued to dominate in the final set, as 6-0 and 5-1 runs propelled the Wolverines to a 25-16 set victory. Cole ended the night with 14 kills and 10 blocks, her second double-double this season.
“Our centers did a really good job of connecting with the other centers and me tonight,” Cole said.
In Friday’s match, Michigan was outblocked, 9-2, and could only muster a .193 hitting percentage. In Saturday’s contest, the Wolverines notched 13 blocks to the Hoosiers’ eight, all while compiling a .336 hitting percentage.
The differences between the Purdue and Indiana went well beyond those seen on a stat sheet. Saturday’s victory proved that Michigan was resilient enough to bounce back from a tough loss.
“One of the adjustments our coaches wanted us to make is to learn as you go,” Cole said. “As long as we’re consistent and learning as we go, we’ll be fine.”