Oct. 15, 2010
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Cliff Keen Arena)
Result: #15 Michigan 3, #20 Northwestern 1(23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24)
Records: U-M (18-2, 7-1 Big Ten), Northwestern (15-3, 5-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Match: Friday, Oct. 22 -- at Indiana (Bloomington, Ind.), 7 p.m. (BigTenNetwork.com)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Behind a career-high 16 kills from freshman middle blocker Jennifer Cross (Scarborough, Ont./Birchmount Park Collegiate), the No. 15-ranked University of Michigan volleyball team stayed atop the Big Ten standing with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24) win over No. 20 Northwestern on Friday evening (Oct. 15) in front of a sellout crowd at Cliff Keen Arena.
Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) dished out 41 assists to go with eight kills and seven digs, while junior outside hitter Alex Hunt (Granger, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph) had 12 kills and redshirt sophomore right side Claire McElheny (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf) chipped in nine terminations. Junior libero Sloane Donhoff (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) anchored the Wolverine defense with 17 digs, while freshman defensive specialist Ally Sabol (Los Angeles, Calif./Marymount) recorded 12.
U-M came out strong in the deciding fourth set, taking a 7-3 lead in the early stages. The Wildcats chipped away at the lead, eventually tying the set at 18-all. U-M responded with a run, taking match point at 24-21, but three consecutive Wolverine errors tied the set at 24 apiece. A Cross kill set up match point, which ended on a Northwestern ball handling error in a 26-24 U-M win.
Michigan never trailed in the third en route to a 25-21 decision, using the solid middle blocker play of Cross and junior Courtney Fletcher (Duluth, Ga./Northview), who had four kills each. U-M used the serving of Hunt to rip off six consecutive points to go up 11-4 and did not look back, holding at least a two-point advantage throughout.
The Wolverines hit the intermission tied at one set apiece after a 25-22 second-set triumph, led by four kills from Cross and three from Zimmerman as neither team topped the .100 attack percentage plateau. Michigan jumped out to an early 4-0 lead on the serving of Donhoff, before Northwestern slowly chipped away at the deficit. Tied at 20-20, McElheny's kill from the right side and a service ace by senior defensive specialist Maggie Busch (Toledo, Ohio/Toledo Christian) put U-M on top for good as Hunt used the Wildcat block to end the set.
U-M dropped a 25-23 first set to the Wildcats as neither team took more than a two-point advantage throughout the set. The Wolverines grabbed a 22-20 lead, but the Wildcats stormed back to score five of the next six points to win the set. The Maize and Blue fell victim to five service errors while hitting just .200 in the frame.
The Wolverines hit the road for a pair of matches next weekend, heading to Indiana for a 7 p.m. Friday night (Oct. 22) match. U-M will then wrap up the weekend at Purdue on Saturday (Oct. 23) with a 6 p.m. contest airing live on the Big Ten Network.
N O T E S
Michigan is off to its best start through 20 matches in program history. The previous best mark was 16-4 during the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons.
U-M's 7-1 Big Ten record is the best conference start ever.
Michigan is 3-1 against ranked opponents in 2010.
U-M has won 16 consecutive matches at home, the seventh-longest active streak in the nation. The last match Michigan lost at Cliff Keen Arena was a 3-2 setback to No. 1 Penn State (Oct. 16, 2009). The Wolverines are 9-0 at Keen this season.
Michigan is 8-0 on Fridays during 2010.
Michigan has won the past five matches against Northwestern.
The Wolverines are 8-0 in four-set matches.
Sloane Donhoff moved into seventh on the all-time dig list with 17 tonight. She now has 1,136 digs in her career.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Mark Rosen
On entering tonight tied with Northwestern at the top of the Big Ten ... "We have not talked and we will not about the `big picture.' It is still really early and there is a lot of season left. For us, I think in a way, maybe as individuals we were thinking about the big picture and looked tight tonight. As a coach, you never know why they look tight. I can guarantee it was not because they didn't want to play well or they weren't motivated. This team is really motivated. I think sometimes when you start thinking about the big picture; it puts a lot of pressure on you. We just need to think about matches one at a time. Tonight was about Northwestern. Now we have to think about Indiana and then go from there."
On tonight's match ... "I thought that it was a good learning experience today. We talk a lot about being a really good team, but we have to learn how to win when we have everything going and playing our `a' game and when we don't. And tonight, it wasn't there, no question. We struggled offensively; we struggled with our serving at times. But yet, they found ways to win and people stepped up when they needed to. To me, that is a good sign, but we do need to get our game back in order. We did not play well tonight. I have to give credit Northwestern. They are a good blocking team. They are a very good system team. They kind of pick on your system and figure out how to get you out of it. They don't make a lot of errors and do put a lot of pressure on you with the defense they play. Those are things that factored into it."
Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423