On Tuesday night, Michigan coach Ronni Bernstein clinched her 289th win after a tough fought match against No. 4 University of California Berkeley, giving the Bears their first loss of the season. However, it was not an easy win for the Wolverines.
The 20th-ranked Wolverines (4-2 overall) dropped the doubles point after two heartbreaking losses in the No. 2 and No. 3 matches to Berkeley (4-1) after over an hour of intense play.
Sophomore Kari Miller and freshman Julia Fliegner fought hard to take four straight games after dropping the first, but lost to the Bear’s Erin Richardson and Julia Rosenqvist in a tiebreaker, 7-4. All eyes looked to junior Nicole Hammond and senior Anca Craciun who had rallied back from being down 2-5. Nonetheless, they lost in the tiebreaker as well, 7-2.
“The doubles point was a disappointment,” Bernstein said. “There was a lot of emotion that went into that and to not win it, but the group stepped up.”
The struggle continued as sophomore Gala Mesochoritou dropped six straight games to lose the first set 6-0 and then another five straight to lose set two, dropping the team to an 0-2 deficit.
After that, the night turned in the Wolverines favor as they began to overtake the Bears.
At the No. 4 spot, junior Andrea Cerdan cruised past Rosenqvist, taking the first set 6-2 and the second one 6-3. Shortly after, at the No. 3 spot, sophomore Jaden Brown hollered and grunted her way to a sweeping win, taking both sets, 6-2. Suddenly, Michigan had clawed back to an even 2-2 and was positioned well in the remaining singles matches.
Fliegner dropped her head into her hands after hitting the net on her last two match point attempts, sending her into two extra games at the No. 6 court. After regaining her composure, she took the second set and screamed in relief.
At the No. 1 spot, the Wolverines’ highest-ranked player was in a heated battle. No. 17 Miller and Bears’ Haley Givara were going at it. Miller dropped the first set in a hard-fought battle ending in a tie breaker. Yet, she didn’t let her frustration break her stride as she took the second set with six straight games. Going 6-0 she rolled that momentum into the third set winning it 6-1.
At this point, Michigan had won the night 4-2, but that didn’t stop Hammond from completing her comeback at No. 2 against California’s Valentina Ivanov. The Wolverines cheered her on as she won the second and third set 7-5 and 6-4 in a difficult match after dropping the first set 6-2. Hammond finished out the night with the last point for Michigan and a 5-2 win.
It was clear that having home court advantage made a difference for the Wolverines, who strut a 222-51 record — .813 winning percentage — at home. Every point, ace, game, rally and set inspired shouts and cheers among fans and high fives between Michigan teammates.
“It’s just huge for us to play in front of our fans,” Bernstein said. “The support of being in this building.”