It was a one-sided affair.
There’s no other way to put it.
In the Michigan volleyball team’s sweep of Louisiana State, there were zero lead changes and only one instance of a tie in score, which happened in the opening moments of a set. From start to finish, the Wolverines dominated — except for one instance.
In the second set, Michigan had an extended scoring drought. After leading by 16 points at 20-4, the Wolverines allowed six straight points to narrow the lead to just ten. It wasn’t a scare by any means. But for Michigan, which had won 21 straight sets — many just as dominantly — any chink in their armor was a notable moment.
After putting on offensive pressure nearly the entire game, the sudden switch to defense caught the Wolverines off guard.
Between the inability to transition and adapt to the Tigers’ new short serve offered the first looks at what an unorganized, unprepared Michigan team looked like.
“Our defensive effort, there were a lot of scrambled plays, you know, we have a system and a plan, but that system only goes so far, then it turns into effort,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen.
Seeing the moment of weakness, Louisiana State attacked aggressively — paying immediate dividends. And thanks to that pressure, its defense found improvement as well, exploiting poorly coordinated responses from the Wolverines. Sophomore middle blocker Kiara Shannon and junior outside hitter Sydney Wetterstrom saw their attacks turn into errors as they failed to keep the hits in bounds.
And just as much as it was an impressive showing by the Tigers, even if for an instance, it was more of Michigan shooting itself in the foot. Of the six points Louisiana State scored, four of them were attacking errors from the Wolverines.
“It was a weird set because we really only rotated five times and we didn’t even get through a full rotation,” Rosen said. “Which is odd. Usually you get through three or close to three. I think it was a weird game, we scored points at a really fast rate, we got runs like crazy.
“I think maybe your serve receive gets a little bit lull because you aren’t in it very often. You were point scoring or serving, playing defense and all of a sudden we’re not on serve receive much.”
In an otherwise flawless game, the short lapse gave the team a glimpse of something it had avoided all season — carelessness. After building and maintaining a large lead for so long, Michigan had a sense of security that lulled it to negligence.
But it was only momentary as a brief timeout was all it took to get regrouped and revitalized — closing the set on a 5-1 run.
That run led to a 25-11 finish on the night, as the Wolverines kept their perfect record intact.