Wolverines Stave Off Northwestern for Five-Set Victory
Molly Toon

Nov. 18, 2011

Box Score | Notes | Highlights

Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Cliff Keen Arena)
Result: #23 Michigan 3, Northwestern 2 (25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11)
Records: U-M (19-10, 7-10 Big Ten), Northwestern (15-13, 6-11 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Nov. 19 -- vs. Illinois (Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 23-ranked University of Michigan volleyball team recorded 108 digs and had five players put down at least 11 kills in a 3-2 win (25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11) over Northwestern on Friday night (Nov. 18) at Cliff Keen Arena.

Senior/junior Claire McElheny (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf) and sophomore Lexi Erwin (Spring, Texas/Woodlands College Park) each went for 16 kills to lead an offense that put five players in double-figure kills for the first time since 2008. The trio of sophomore Molly Toon (Middleton, Wis./Middleton), senior Courtney Fletcher (Johns Creek, Ga./Northview) and sophomore Jennifer Cross (Scarborough, Ont./Birchmount Park Collegiate) each put down 11 kills as Michigan hit .161 on the evening. Senior libero Sloane Donhoff (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) anchored a U-M defense that had five in double-figure digs, registering 30, as sophomore Ally Sabol (Los Angeles, Calif./Marymount) went for 23. Freshman setter Lexi Dannemiller (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) handed out 57 assists and recorded 20 digs for her 12th double-double of the season.

With the first set tied at 17-17, Michigan used a three-point spurt capped by an Erwin termination to take a 20-17 lead. NU scored the next two points to close within a point at 20-19, but Michigan scored five of the next seven points en route to a 25-21 win. Cross and Erwin each put down five kills in the frame with Donhoff registering nine digs.

Michigan raced out to a 5-0 advantage in the second set on the serve of Dannemiller, using three kills and two Northwestern attack errors to gain the early upper hand. The Wildcats slowly chipped away at the lead, eventually taking a short-lived 14-13 lead. The teams traded points until Michigan grabbed set point at 24-23 and forced a Northwestern timeout. Out of the stoppage, U-M fell victim to two straight errors, giving the Wildcats set point. Michigan staved off one set point before falling on the second, as NU took a 27-25 win.

The teams battled back-and-forth in the third set, before a Cross slide kill broke a 17-17 tie, giving Michigan the lead for good at 18-17. The Wolverines held the lead the rest of the way, with a stuff block by McElheny and Cross sealing a 25-21 win.

Michigan held a 23-19 lead in the fourth set, but Northwestern scored six unanswered points to take a 25-23 win and send the match to a fifth set. The Wolverines hit just .077 in the frame, committing seven attack errors to go with a service error and two block errors.

Fletcher took over in the fifth set, putting down four kills on four swings as Michigan won the final set, 15-11. U-M raced out to a 6-2 advantage before Northwestern closed the gap to 9-8. Michigan scored six of the next nine points in the win, hitting .321 in the deciding frame to Northwestern's .148.

Michigan returns to the court tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 19), hosting No. 7 Illinois at 7 p.m.

Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423

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