When Michigan needed its star player, she delivered.
After dropping the third set to the Buckeyes, the Wolverines built up momentum early in the fourth set when senior middle blocker Abby Cole slammed two straight kills on the opening two points. Michigan took a commanding 18-9 lead, but allowed Ohio State to tie the game at 21 off an ace by Taylor Hughes. The teams traded points until the Wolverines closed out the match on a kill by senior outside hitter Kelly Murphy.
But it wouldn’t have happened without Cole. Cole led the triumphant ending over the Buckeyes, totaling eight kills in the fourth set equal to her tally through the first three.
“I think there was definitely some frustration that built up not getting the sweep, but at the same time it’s really important to be able to channel that,” Cole said. “Then it was my focus to not let the match go to five and to just finish it in four.”
The No. 23 Michigan volleyball team picked up a pair of wins against Maryland and No. 14 Ohio State this weekend, both in four sets. Despite having troubles serving the ball, the Wolverines overcame the Terrapins — but Ohio State proved to be the tougher opposition. The Buckeyes were coming off a disappointing loss to Michigan State after beating Nebraska, the defending national champion.
Michigan got momentum early in the first set, winning six straight points behind Murphy’s serve. The Wolverines led by as many as 11 points in the first set, which they won, 25-20, after Ohio State’s defensive specialist Valeria Leon made a service error.
In the second set against Ohio State, neither team could build a strong lead and the Buckeyes mustered just a three-point lead during the set, the frame’s largest margin. Later, with the score tied 23-23, the Wolverines won the final two points off of a kill by junior middle blocker Claire Keiffer-Wright and an attacking error by Ohio State’s outside hitter Luisa Schirmer.
Michigan won the first point of the third set but struggled to stay on top. The Buckeyes quickly took a commanding lead and kept it, winning the set, 25-16, after setter Taylor Hughes assisted middle blocker Taylor Sandbrothe on a kill. The third set was the only one in which Michigan had more errors than Ohio State.
“I thought Ohio State played really strongly in that game,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen. “Next thing you know they’re leading by nine.”
If not for junior outside hitter Adeja Lambert, who got 33 kills between the weekend’s two games, the Wolverines would not have closed out against the Terrapins.
After winning the first two sets against Maryland, Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 15-3 Overall) failed to close out the match in the third set. In the fourth set, Lambert registered two kills in the final three points to close out the match.
Though Michigan is typically a strong serving team, the Wolverines struggled against the Terrapins.
“We had absolutely our worst serving night of the year on Friday,” Rosen said. “It was just one of those nights.”