While Michigan hoped to get itself back on track in the Big Ten, No. 11 Wisconsin had other plans.
Highlighted by a powerful offense, the Badgers (11-4 Big Ten, 19-6 overall) beat the Wolverines (6-9, 16-10) handily in three sets, giving Michigan its fourth loss in a row. Wisconsin has caused many problems for the Wolverines, who have not beaten the Badgers since October 2013.
Sophomore outside hitter Caroline Knop believes the team’s recent misfortunes have begun to snowball.
“We’ve just gotta step back and play our game and relax and have fun out there,” said Knop. “We need to go back to the basics: why we started the game, why we love the game.”
In a game that featured many errors for Michigan, it was never able to find any rhythm.
The Wolverines’ strongest set was the first set, when they managed to tie the game, 14-14, which led to a Wisconsin timeout. The Badgers finished the set on an 11-6 run, winning the set, 25-20. Michigan could only muster a .147 attack percentage to Wisconsin’s .267 attack percentage.
The Wolverines dropped their final two sets, 25-19. The third set showcased Michigan’s weakest set performance of the season with a .000 attack percentage.
“We’re not executing at a high enough level,” Knop said. “We’re not playing consistent volleyball, and that needs to change in practice.”
Knop, who has led the team the past five games in kills, led the way again with a team-high eight kills and 10 digs.
Despite Knop’s stellar performance lately, she has kept her focus on the team.
“It’s not about me at all,” Knop said. “If I hit negative for these past five games and we won five, I would trade for that in a heartbeat. That means everyone is playing at a high level and being consistent night in and night out.”
Michigan coach Mark Rosen believes mistakes and inconsistent play led to the loss.
“We’re not getting enough kills. We’re making too many errors,” Rosen said. “We had 22 errors, and that is too many. You could see us getting frustrated.
“We make two less errors and turn them into kills and then we have the same attack percentage as them. There’s lots of periods where we’re doing good stuff, but we’re not executing consistently.”