By Seth J. Walker
Ann Arbor, Michigan- It wasn’t easy, but the 23rd-ranked Michigan Wolverines got the sweep over the previously unbeaten Cleveland State Vikings (25-23, 25-22, 25-18), remaining undefeated themselves. The Wolverines trailed for the early part of the first set, but came back it win it, setting the tone for the match, the first of the Michigan Invitational, as all three sets were won by seven or fewer points.
“Just like last weekend, we had two matches that where every set was super close,” Wolverines senior libero, Jenna Lerg said. “In crunch time, we know we have to be good and we have to be confident in ourselves and in each other and I think we really built on that this whole preseason and we’re working to keep going from here on out.”
This win came against a quality mid-major team, as the Vikings are the three-time defending Horizon League champions, and are the preseason favorites again this year. The Wolverines will face another Horizon League team, Oakland, picked second in the that conference, in next week’s Michigan Challenge. This is in addition to the win over Auburn, last weekend, and the upcoming matches against LSU, Notre Dame, and Colorado State.
“We want to put together a competitive non-conference,” Wolverines head coach, Mark Rosen said. “It’s an RPI game to some degree. We know in the Big Ten, we’re going to see great teams every weekend, week in and week out. In the non-conference, we want to be smart and play RPI teams that are going to help that RPI for us. Cleveland State’s one. They’re going to win a lot of games in their conference. If they’ve done like in the past, they’re going to win their conference to go to the NCAA Tournament. That helps our resume at the end of the year. Oakland, same thing, they’re going to win a lot of games. They’re going to be competing for their conference title, and that helps us in the RPI.”
Senior outside hitter, Carly Skjodt led the Wolverines with 13 kills while adding nine digs. Junior setter, MacKenzi Welsh had 32 assists and four blocks. Sophomore middle blocker, Kiara Shannon had a team-high six blocks, while Lerg and sophomore defensive specialist Jaqueline DiSanto had 18 and 14 digs, respectively.
For Skjodt, it’s already begun to sink in that this will be her last volleyball season in a Wolverines uniform.
“I’m already getting a little sad about it,” Skjodt said. “It was my last, first home game, tonight, so I think it will definitely sink in towards the end of the season, but as of now, I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.”