Michigan volleyball’s strong serve propels it above Mississippi State

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Michigan Volleyball team senior center blocker Jess Robinson stepped up to the net as senior setter Maddie Dowd gave her a perfect set. Robinson skied down and landed the kill to a chorus of cheers, setting the tone for a dominant game for the Wolverines.

Friday night, Michigan (8-1 overall) played like a well-oiled machine beating Mississippi State (7-3), 3-1. He was propelled by his solid serve, scoring eight aces on the night, keeping the Bulldogs on their back heels.

“I think we really came out strong, something we’ve been talking about all this year,” said junior redshirt libero Hannah Grant. “And I think we did a really good job of testing ourselves, giving them a lot of pressure, and I think they felt that from the start of the game.”

From the first serve, the Wolverines controlled the game. After Robinson’s game-opening kill, Michigan took a 13-6 lead. The Wolverines managed to establish the fast attack in the middle thanks to Robinson and Dowd. Along with the fast offense, four combined aces from junior setter Scottee Johnson, junior opposite hitter Kendall Murray and Grant fueled the run and helped Michigan win the set, 25-16.

The second set saw Michigan outright dominate. The excellent serve continued and, coupled with a 9-0, 4-0 run, Wolverines easily took a 2-0 lead, taking the second set 25-8.

“We were really good on the service line tonight,” Mruzik said. “And I think we served them so well. They weren’t able to run as fast as they wanted to… (so) it was a bit easier for us as blockers to figure out, like “OK, they can’t make this person run because let the smugglers get away with it”. that, ‘so I thought serving was our first defense in setting up the block.

Michigan put up a clinic at net, outscoring Mississippi State 16-6 — and holding it to a paltry .047 hit percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Jacque Boney had a career-best nine blocks and the Wolverines had ten in the third set alone.

Despite stalling in the third set, Michigan was unable to counter an increase in Bulldogs energy. The pace of play picked up and offensive efficiency plummeted, with Wolverines’ hitting percentage dropping to just over .100 in the set, later losing the set itself, 25-22.

“We talked a lot in the locker room about when things happen, ‘How do you react?’ “, said Rosen. “And I thought they were responding perfectly. They came out and our efficiency went up. By the end of the fourth set we were hitting .530, you know that from hitting just over .100 in the third set. is a good answer.

Michigan came out of the break attacking with renewed energy at net. The fourth set began with a series of blocks from senior May Pertofsky, Mruzik and Boney that propelled the Wolverines to a 7-1 lead.

The defense took over, with players jostling and saving nearly every kill attempt. Each scramble play extended the rally, giving Michigan the opportunity to score a kill at their next opportunity.

“We’ve made scrambling plays where we just keep the ball off the ground,” Rosen said. “And every time you do that, you make it hard for the other team to kill. They feel like they need to do a little more, and all of a sudden you start to see mistakes, you start to see them trying a little harder, a little sharper angle. This quest is really important. It makes things difficult for the other team physically, but also mentally.

Defense fuels offense, and the Wolverines capitalized on extended rallies with big swings. Michigan closed out the final set with a .478 clip to win it 25-16.

The preparation the Wolverines put into the game all week paid off, culminating in a relatively easy victory over the Bulldogs’ fast attack.

“We’ve done a really good job during this whole non-conference program of team preparation and night-to-night shifts, which will be a great thing for us in the Big Ten season,” Mruzik said. “And Mississippi State is a really good team, so I think we did a really good job tonight of coming out and showing them what Big Ten volleyball is all about.”

Michigan took care of business against the Bulldogs, proving it can handle non-conference teams. Now, the Wolverines are hoping that momentum can carry over into the conference season.

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