On Wednesday the Michigan women’s volleyball team (16-7 overall, 9-4 Big Ten) closed out this season’s Crisler series against Michigan State (13-10, 4-9), winning in four sets.
The Wolverines jumped out to a two-set lead before taking the fourth set in dominating fashion, 25-16, and extending their win streak to three.
Michigan opened the first set by capitalizing on the Spartans’ mistakes, which propelled the Wolverines to an early four-point lead, forcing Michigan State to take a timeout. Afterwards, the two teams were caught in an aggressive back-and-forth battle, but Michigan consistently maintained a four-point advantage throughout the set.
The Spartans’ bench was boisterous the entire game, making sure the entire stadium of 3,000 heard when they scored a point. The Wolverines won the set, 25-16, after a kill from sophomore outside hitter Paige Jones who tied her career high with 26.
The second set opened with madness.
The first point of the set went to Michigan after senior outside hitter Sydney Wetterstrom dove to make a dig. Wetterstrom flew from right to left, as she miraculously volleyed the ball over the net. This effort marked a 4-1 run — a gap that would prove to be too much for the Spartans to overcome. They never tied or regained the lead from this point in the set.
The Wolverines controlled this set and won it convincingly, 25-21, retaining service at a 66 percent clip, which made it difficult for Michigan State to mount a comeback.
The third set showed a different team. The Wolverines came out and found themselves in a dogfight struggling to generate offense. It was, 18-16 Spartans when Michigan coach Mark Rosen took a timeout to try and rally his players.
The Spartans though, scored a point off another Wolverine error, forcing Rosen to call another timeout to try and preserve the sweep. Michigan would take the first two points out of the timeout, determined to make a comeback, before Michigan State closed out the third set on a 3-1 run, winning it, 25-22.
The fourth and final set brought an intense Michigan team. It wanted to erase any semblance of the team that was on the floor for the third set, hammering away to a 4-0 start.
“This team is a really honest, committed team. They were talking about that how they played in the third set,” Rosen said, “before they got in the locker room. They did not like (how they played in the third set), they were frustrated.”
The Wolverines responded accordingly, and Jones led the charge in the final set, scoring 10 of her 26 kills, and getting a double-double with 14 digs. For Jones, this is also her third-straight game with 10 or more kills and digs, and seventh straight game with double digit kills.
In the fourth set, the Wolverines were able to control Michigan State, by once again never letting the Spartans gain control of the lead. Michigan was leading late, 23-16, and by that point Michigan State seemed to have waved the white towel by not calling a timeout or substituting in players to try and spark new life into their team.
The Wolverines defeated the Spartans in the final set, 25-16, and went on an 8-3 run to end the game.
The Wolverines feel good about how they are playing right now, specifically the play of Jones, with good opportunities to get big wins against ranked teams to position themselves better for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.