For Michigan women’s volleyball coach Mark Rosen, Christmas came a little early this year.
The Wolverines (5-3 Big Ten, 15-4 overall) won their second game in as many days, defeating Maryland (0-8 Big Ten, 10-12 overall) in three straight sets.
“I think the toughest thing this past two weeks is we’ve had very little practice time,” Rosen said. “We have three days now of practice. It’s like Christmas.”
In the first set, the Wolverines and Terrapins went back and forth until Maryland coach Steve Aird called a timeout with his team up 20-18. It was an unusual time for a coach to ask for a stoppage, especially because Michigan was at a height disadvantage, with senior setter Carly Warner near the net. Yet, the Wolverines prevailed, grabbing two straight points to nullify the tactic and tying the game at 20, eventually going on to win 25-22.
“It was ironic,” Rosen said. “(The Terrapins) felt they had an advantage, and our girls stepped up.”
Junior middle blocker Abby Cole continued to anchor the Wolverines’ offensive attack, leading the team in kills for the second straight game. Freshman outside hitter Carly Skjodt added nine kills of her own. Cole praised her team for resiliency against Maryland, especially after what the team considered a disappointing victory over Rutgers on Wednesday.
“I think that we had a big focus coming in of just getting better as the match goes,” Cole said. “So if it’s a tough pass, we make it a better set and a better attack and just find ways to score points.”
After a hard-fought first set, Michigan jumped out to an early lead in the second and, with one exception, maintained it through the game’s entirety. Another late timeout by the Terrapins led to a late run by the Wolverines, who scored the game’s final six points en route to a 25-16 victory.
In the final set, Michigan led throughout. Cole dominated the offense with support from Skjodt and sophomore middle blocker Claire Kieffer-Wright, who finished with five kills, including three in the last set. Though the Terrapins threatened at the end of the game, bringing the score to 24-23, Cole notched one final kill, much to the delight of the fans at Cliff Keen Arena.
Rosen praised the team’s balanced offense and was proud of his team’s ability to share the ball, but still recognized Cole’s individual prowess.
“A piece of me as a coach is saying, ‘Set the hot hitter,’ ” Rosen said. “Set the hot hand.”
Rosen characterized his offense as a balanced one. He feels each player has the opportunity to shine. More practice time for the Wolverines will lead to an even greater offensive improvement — and that, above all, will please Rosen.