Grace Lahti/Daily. Buy this photo.

COLLEGE PARK — In order to beat the number one blocking team in the country, the Michigan volleyball team needed to play a complete game. And the Wolverines delivered on Saturday night, steadily suffocating Maryland with strong performances on both sides of the ball.

After dropping a close first set to the Terrapins (15-15 overall, 6-12 Big Ten), Michigan (16-12, 7-11) controlled the remainder of the game to come away with a hard-fought 3-1 victory.

“After we figured them out, we adjusted well,” junior outside hitter Jess Mruzik said. “Towards the end of the first set we got it going and just kept on for the rest of the match.”

The Wolverines struggled at first, finding themselves down 15-22 in the first set. But a 7-1 scoring run changed the momentum of the game. Although the Terrapins managed to mount a final effort to take the first set 28-26, Michigan entered the break confident in their game plan.

The Wolverines’ confidence was clearly warranted as they scored six straight unanswered points to begin the second set. Though Michigan allowed Maryland to disrupt its rhythm early on in the match, strong defensive play helped the offense stay in sync after the first set. 

“We’ve just been working really really hard to get (offense and defense) connected so they’re interchangeable,” Mruzik said. “When offense wasn’t necessarily playing well, defense stepped up. And when defense made a good dig, offense made it even better.”

Redshirt junior libero Hannah Grant led the Wolverines’ defense, matching her career high in digs with 24. She took up space on the court, diving to save balls that easily could have been Terrapin kills. 

“She’s the rock to our defense,” Michigan coach Leisa Rosen said. “We want her on every first ball that she can get on.”

Grant also led Michigan’s serving attack, notching five of the Wolverines’ 10 service aces — another career high. With Grant at the helm, aggressive serving allowed Michigan to overcome Maryland’s famed blockers and set up effective blocks of their own.

“We knew that they’re a physical team,” Rosen said. “So we needed to do a good job of getting them out of system to help our blocking defense.”

The Wolverines not only managed to beat the Terrapins’ blocks, they also out-blocked Maryland 13-12.

The Terrapins put up a fight in both the second and third sets, creating back and forth action and even leading by as much as five points in the third. But they couldn’t circumvent Michigan’s versatility and its ability to score on offense, defense and serves.

And after managing the match all day, the Wolverines’ efforts culminated in a dominant fourth set. 

After taking an early lead, they went on a 10-0 scoring run that stymied all hopes of a Maryland comeback. Fittingly, Michigan cemented the win with a final block, taking the fourth set 25-11.

Even when trailing in the match, the Wolverines persevered and relied on each other and their own versatility to put together a complete win. Though Michigan hasn’t been able to do that consistently all season, Saturday night, it found a way to deliver.