For the first time this season, the Michigan women’s volleyball team lost two consecutive matches.
The Wolverines took on Purdue on Friday and lost in four sets, and the following day, Michigan fell in the same way against Indiana.
Even though the matches followed similar patterns, Indiana and Purdue could not be more unlike, according to Michigan coach Mark Rosen. Indiana dominated at the net while Rosen praised Purdue for using their physicality to throw off Michigan’s game plan.
“We knew that the styles of play were going to be totally different,” Rosen said. “The way Indiana plays and the way Purdue plays are 180 degrees different.”
The Wolverines lost the first set of both matches, but came back strong and won the second. The team fell short in the fourth set against Purdue the following two sets and finished the weekend with no victories, though not without a fight. With a deficit of 12 points, the Wolverines had a 5-2 point run to make a small comeback, but ultimately lost on a service error.
Rosen outlined two game plans for the vastly different opponents, but at game time, his team did not execute.
“I don’t think we did a good job of being disciplined to our game plan,” Rosen said. “That’s certainly something we have to be good at if we’re going to be successful. Every team we play, we go into it with a certain plan.”
The team also lacked its usual offensive power. Against Purdue, the Wolverines tallied a .117 attack average, the second-lowest of their season. Saturday, the attack average was an even lower 0.93. Sophomore libero Jenna Lerg led the defense for the 24th game in a row, but Rosen was still unhappy with the performance.
“I don’t think we attacked very well — we hit under 100 as a team,” Rosen said. “I think our passing was not great, I think we could’ve executed much better with the ball control we had.”
Even with such a low hitting percentage, the Wolverines put up a fight in the fourth set of the match on Saturday and kept the game close.
After trailing by seven points, the team was able to go on a 10-3 point run led by sophomore outside hitter Carly Skjodt and senior outside hitter Kelly Murphy to tie the score at 12-12. Indiana led for the majority of the remainder of the match by one point with ties at 15-15 and 16-16. A kill by Skjodt, tied the game at 23-23 after another kill by Skjodt forced Indiana to call a timeout at 21-23. But Michigan faltered late, losing the last two points to drop the set and match.
“I’m encouraged by the fact that we fought hard and that we never gave up,” Rosen said. “We let things get away from us there at the end, both last night and tonight, but we have to get much better with our execution.”
Though the Wolverines have victories over Rutgers, Northwestern, Maryland and Kansas State on the road, they have losses against Pittsburgh, Penn State and now Indiana and Purdue.
“We play better at home than we do on the road,” Rosen said. “But we can’t use that as an excuse, we’ve got to find a way to play better in different environments.”
With a 10-2 home record and a second shot, Michigan will have another chance to create its game plans against Indiana this Saturday at Cliff Keen Arena.