At this point in the season, the Michigan volleyball team has only participated in tournaments instead of regular matches. According to Coach Mark Rosen, there are both pros and cons to the early stretch of tournament play.
“It’s good in the sense that you get to play more matches and you get to play different level teams, you can try some different things. The Big Ten is so competitive that every match is just a battle. So you can’t really experiment much or try something different in those matches because you really have to be at your very best,” Rosen said.
The team traveled to Fort Collins, Colo. to participate in the CSU Invitational this past weekend for its third tournament of the season. Over the course of three days, the Wolverines played three matches against Idaho State, Colorado State and Ball State, winning two.
While the ability to experiment can be beneficial, tournaments can create an accelerated environment for matches. On Friday, the Wolverines played two matches in one day.
“It’s a little more physically challenging,” Rosen said. “When you have that turnaround, you don’t get to know as much about the opponent and you don’t have time to do as much detailed scouting.”
The weekend started out strong for Michigan. It opened at 10 a.m. on Friday with a clean 3-0 sweep against Idaho State. Later that day, the Wolverines played against Colorado State and ended up with a 3-0 loss.
The team then had a day off to prepare for their Sunday match against Ball State.
“It was tough on Friday night,” Rosen said. “But the team knows that throughout the course of the season we have to be resilient. I thought we had a great practice on Saturday and we worked some things out.”
The Wolverines started the match off Sunday morning with a 25-17 loss in the first set.
“They’re a good, competitive team and they came out really aggressive early on,” Rosen said. “We were maybe a little residual from Friday night. You start to doubt yourself.”
That did not last long, however. Michigan picked itself up and took a 25-20 victory in the second set.
The third set proved to be the most dominant set of the match for the Wolverines, as they won 25-11.
Rosen was most impressed by the team’s ability to adjust, not only physically but mentally. He praised the team for their ability to switch their mentality, which allowed them to be more successful in the later sets.
“We were really frustrated in the first set and really on our heels to flipping that within a one set period of time where all of the sudden we were the aggressor in a big way,” Rosen said.
Michigan went on to win the fourth set 25-18 and close out the weekend with a come-from-behind victory.
“We stopped looking like we had to be perfect to be successful,” Rosen said. “…You need to let yourself be a little more free and comfortable with knowing that there is going to be some mistakes and you can fight through that.”