Wolverines Sweep EMU, Harvard To Complete Michigan Invitational
The 23rd-ranked Michigan Wolverines complete the Michigan Invitational 3-0 with two wins Saturday afternoon after beating Cleveland State, Friday night.
The Wolverines won their first match of the day over the in-state rival Eastern Michigan Eagles (25-19, 25-18, 25-10). Their victory came through another balanced effort with four players recording eight or more kills. Redshirt junior middle blocker Cori Crocker had 10 kills while sophomore middle blocker, Kiara Shannon recorded nine. Junior, Sydney Wetterstorm and senior, Carly Skjodt, both outside hitters, each had eight.
“Offensively, we played really well,” Wolverines head coach, Mark Rosen said. “We hit .350 for the match. That’s a pretty big number.”
At six-foot-three, Crocker is one of the tallest Wolverines on the roster, but it’s also her basketball experience that helped become an effective middle blocker. Her ability to pursue blocking opportunities and using her power and athleticism to blast shots through with powerful swings come from skills she developed grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, and scoring in the post.
“I think I definitely have a different mindset at the net than most people,” Crocker said. “I am a very big and physical person and I like to play contact sports. (In) volleyball, there’s not much contact except blocking; so I like to think that’s my opportunity to touch people and make a really physical impact, so I like stay very physical at the net.”
The Wolverines then took care of business against Harvard, with another sweep (25-12, 25-15, 25-13). Skjodt led the team with 14 kills while freshman outside hitter, Paige Jones had eight. Defensively, senior libero, Jenna Lerg led the Wolverines with 16 digs while Crocker and Shannon had six and four blocks, respectively.
Junior setter, Welsh once again orchestrated the offense with 34 assists along with six digs and two block assists. Rosen has said multiple times that he likes having a balanced team where it isn’t always just one main attacker offensive; so that has made Welsh’s role even more important in being able to establish a rhythm with every attacker.
“We have six new freshman in the gym, so getting on the same page with all of them has been really nice,” Welsh said. “Then older girls have really stepped up and made sure everyone’s on the same page, but (it’s) really just the hitters giving me feedback and telling me what they want and me just doing my best.”
Welsh cited Shannon as notable player who has stepped up for the Wolverines this season. Shannon has had a increased role this year with the departure of Claire Kieffer-Wright via graduation. When the Oshawa, Ontario native made her recruiting visit to Michigan, her choice became an easy one.
“A lot of people talk about it during the recruiting process, you’ll to a school and kind of know, and I think I just knew,” Shannon said. “The athletics are great. The academics are great. The culture in the gym, there’s a really healthy balance of fun and serious(ness); both sides of the spectrum. The team was great. When, you’re here, they made you feel like you’re already at home. It’s not too far from home. I’m from Canada, but it’s only a five and a half hour drive so I can still see my family.”
The Wolverines will continue their homestand against Valparaiso Tuesday at 7pm before hosting the Michigan Challenge that weekend against Oakland, LSU and Colorado State.