Senior outside hitter Paige Jones leapt into the air off an out of system set from freshman middle blocker Jacque Boney. Faced with the No. 1 blocking team in the country and tied at 25, the hit could decide the winner between the Wolverines and the Terrapins. Maryland’s Laila Ricks rose up and blocked Jones’ spike straight into the court to give the Terrapins a set point at 26-25.
Unfazed by the pressure, Jones came back and got the kill the very next point to tie the set again at 26 and keep the Michigan volleyball team in the game.. After an ace from junior May Pertofsky, it had another chance to take the decisive second set. The ball again flew in the direction of Jones, who crushed any hope of the opposing blockers and sent the ball to the back opposite corner for the second set victory.
The Wolverines (11-6 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) would use this set as a stepping stone to sweep Maryland (15-5, 3-5) at home in Cliff Keen Arena.
The Terrapins started off the match with momentum after a five-point run to start the first set with an 8-4 lead. The start was fueled by Maryland outside hitter Paula Neciporuka, who was a perfect three for three on her attacks and would finish the set with five kills and no errors. The remaining Terrapins, though, totaled three kills and nine errors on over double the attempts. However, after the first set Neciporuka was neutralized to only four more kills by the Wolverine defense.
“Our blockers did a very good job of getting right in front of her and just funneling the ball around to the defenders which helped a lot,” sophomore libero Hannah Grant said. “She was good, she was swinging really hard, but again the blockers did a really good job of getting right in front of her and making our defense behind a lot easier.”
After a slow start, Michigan would tie it at 13 and completely dominate the rest of the set. Kills from Pertofsky and Jones finished off a seven-point run to put them up 20-13. Coming out of a Maryland timeout, the Wolverines took care of business and won the set 25-15 after another kill from Pertofsky.
This momentum continued into the second set. After some back and forth play, the teams would find themselves tied at 11 points. A kill from sophomore outside hitter Jess Robinson began a six-point run from the Wolverines to give them a 17-11 lead.
It looked as though this would be another dominant win, but the Terrapins fought back. Down 21-14, they rattled off three straight points and got closer and closer to Michigan as the set drew on.
Even after a kill from Pertofsky gave the Wolverines triple set point at 24-21, Maryland rattled off another rally to tie the score at 24. From there, Jones stole the show.
Michigan had to work for their meal, but in the end they took the set, 28-26.
“We still think that we controlled that whole second set,” Jones said. “We started to not play as well and as fluid as we were before so we were just focusing on us. They were bringing the heat on serves and our receiving needed to adjust.”
The third set again started with a massive Wolverine lead at 19-11 after domination by sophomore outside hitter Jess Mruzik, who would lead the team in kills on the day. The Terrapins again fought back with their own six-point run. However, they never got the lead back and Michigan cleaned up the match with a 25-20 win, securing the victory.