The Michigan volleyball team (10-3) broke out the brooms once again this Friday against Maryland, winning 25-27, 25-21, 27-25. This win marks the Wolverines’ third consecutive sweep and eight overall for the season.
Michigan consistently hit the ball with great accuracy, playing one of their most efficient games of the season. Sophomore outside hitter Paige Jones led the way with 16 kills. The offensive efficiency was made possible by senior setter Mackenzie Welsh, as she single-handedly out assisted the entire Maryland team, 41 to 29.
The Terrapins took a late lead in a highly-contested third set, but senior outside hitter Sydney Wetterstrom, who hit a .440 and added 14 kills, responded by rattling off two straight points with two powerful hits. Maryland didn’t go down without a fight and came back to take a 23-22 lead, forcing the Wolverines to call a timeout in order to regroup one last time. Michigan stormed out of the timeout winning five of the last seven points to seal the victory.
“I thought the third set was got a little inconsistent and that made it a little harder for us to keep a lead,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen.
While it seems like it’s been smooth sailing for the Wolverines, they have steadily improved after a slow start to the season. Michigan started 4-2, a sweep by Missouri being the low point. Since then, it has only lost one game, losing just four sets total.
“We have really grown a lot since the beginning of the season,” Rosen said. “We started with a couple of losses.”
As is evident by Welsh’s performance, passing and the team’s serve receive has been a primary focus in practice. While the offense was firing on all cylinders, Wetterstrom showed good restraint on defense, as she was on the receiving end of the vast majority of the serves throughout the game.
“Our serve receive wasn’t strong early on,” Rosen said. “We knew we could be good at it but we just weren’t until we were able to focus on it and get better at it. I think the players have worked really hard to patch those things up that we work really hard at. I think we are just getting better every day.”
Rosen doesn’t like to evaluate a game from the perspective of a sweep, but does admit it helps when a team never loses the overall momentum of the game. However, he does look to the well-balanced and highly-efficient offense as a point of emphasis for Michigan.
“The fact that we have multiple attackers we don’t have to rely on one player to carry a huge load (is important),” Rosen said. “We can rely on a lot of players. I think that makes it hard to stop that there are so many weapons.”