Junior opposite hitter May Pertofsky stood at the service line and slammed the ball down once, twice, three times. She looked up, breathed deeply, and tossed the ball high into the air. She jumped forward and slammed the ball into the far corner, which struck the line for a perfect ace.
Serves like these from Pertofsky gave Michigan control of the third set and the match. She put on a show during the Wolverines’ (7-2 overall) 3-0 win over Boston College (10-4) on Friday during the Michigan Invitational.
Pertofsky notched 10 kills to go with five blocks, both good enough for the second highest mark on the team. She hit those 10 kills at a .400 clip.
But of all of Pertofsky’s success, it was her serves that stood out as a real difference-maker in the match. Pertofsky recorded three of Michigan’s four aces, and her powerful serves gave the Wolverines a big boost whenever she got back behind the service line.
“She’s a beast,” senior outside hitter Paige Jones said. “She’s been focusing a lot on getting her service game under control, and she’s doing great with that. She’s just a huge presence on the right side with blocking and attacking.”
Many of the servers opted for a low-power, knuckling float serve to disrupt the passing of the other team. But not Pertofsky, whose high-toss fueled a punishing power serve. The contrast between this float style and Pertofsky’s power made her serve all the more effective.
“I’ve been learning how to serve more consistently with the hybrid since it’s not something that I did before college,” Pertofsky said. “We’ve put so much time into it over the years and really worked on it a lot this year.”
Even when the serve didn’t show up in the box score, it often played a role in the point. Pertofsky’s wicked serves put Boston College on the back foot for the entire point, as Michigan frequently got an easy attack after a misplaced pass followed a hard serve.
“Her serves are just nasty,” Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. “I don’t have a better word for it. It’s crazy fast, she moves it around, it’s super unpredictable … It’s a really dangerous serve, and it’s fun to have her back there.”
Pertofsky’s power radiated at key moments for the Wolverines. When games hung in the balance, she was there to make a big play and swing the momentum back in their favor.
In the second set, Michigan led, 19-15. Boston College was hanging in much better than they had been in the first set, but Pertofsky came to the service line for the Wolverines. Michigan rattled off three straight points, all in the same fashion: Pertofsky rocketed a ball to the Eagles, who overpassed and gave the Wolverines an easy kill off the return.
Michigan took control of the set — and the match — on the back of Pertofsky’s serves.
“Offensively, she’s just a huge producer,” Rosen said. “She gets a lot of kills and can terminate really, really well … She’s been just all around outstanding.”