Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” rattled through Crisler Center, jolting Michigan fans and players to dance as the Michigan volleyball team headed into the third set leading, 2-0. The Wolverines (9-3 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) dominated the first two sets and were met with little resistance from their rival Ohio State (8-6, 1-1). It was all good vibes at Crisler in the volleyball version of ‘The Game.’
Michigan, in the words of Queen, was having itself a good time. The Wolverines finished off the Buckeyes in three sets to sweep their rival — 25-14, 25-17, 25-19.
“Matches like this give you a ton of confidence,” said Michigan coach Mark Rosen after the match. “It’s earned. You can’t give somebody confidence, it’s earned, and so I thought tonight we did a great job.”
The Michigan offense tore apart Ohio State’s defense for three sets. Sophomore outside hitter Paige Jones and senior setter MacKenzi Welsh led the Wolverines offensively. Jones dominated the attacking game with 14 kills and a .483 hitting percentage. Welsh added to the offensive performance with 36 assists. Senior outside hitter Sydney Wetterstrom didn’t make a positive impact on the stat sheet. Wetterstrom struggled with six attacking errors and a .167 hitting percentage.
“She’s struggled a little bit offensively lately,” Rosen said. “She’ll get better. She’ll figure it out. She’s a good offensive player, but the fact that she’s finding other ways to make an impact and really impact us in a positive way.”
But her energy and positive attitude kept the team going throughout the match.
“I think it’s a great example for other players,” Rosen said. “That’s a senior who kind of gets it. I don’t know if she would’ve done that as a freshman, so it’s great for other players to see that’s the way you respond.”
Michigan was also boosted by self-inflicted wounds from Ohio State, with a surplus of mistakes including 16 errors between serving, attacking and ball handling. The Buckeyes’ errors allowed Michigan to go on substantial runs in every set — most notably a 14-5 run to close out the first set. These Michigan runs forced Ohio State to use all of its timeouts in each set, proving the Wolverines’ dominance in this game. In a rivalry game, it counts for more than just a number in the win column, especially in the fashion that Michigan won.
“Knowing that there’s such an actual rivalry versus just two schools, it’s really cool and it’s super emotional,” Welsh said. “Knowing that this rivalry game means a lot to our program, and not just Michigan as a whole, is super cool to go out and play in these games and fight for everything that our program means.”