“Last” Year In Wolverine Volleyball
After finishing at 11-9 three consecutive seasons, Michigan took a slight step forward and ended at 13-7 in 2019 Big Ten play. The best wins were taking the home and away matches against Illinois, and all their losses were against the Big 4 and Purdue. Their perfectly cromulent record earned them a trip to Lexington for the NCAA tournament, where they beat Northern Kentucky and lost to host Regular Kentucky.
2021 Wolverine Volleyball
Well, that slight step forward turned into two steps back. Michigan’s cancellations left them with 11 games, with six against three top teams (all losses) and four wins in five dogfights against the lower tier. They’re having the kind of year where they cite leading the conference in attacks per set in their game preview. I do not believe I have seen that stat cited before.
Let’s start with the Wolverine outside hitters that are leading the team in attacks, then. Despite missing four sets, freshman Jess Mruzik has the thinnest of margins over junior Paige Jones. Neither player is doing much with the attacks though, both hitting around .150. Jones’ stats are especially hurting. Last year, she put in a solid .250 attack, but this year she’s relying on a 37-11-64 five set marathon against Indiana to pump her numbers up as “high” as they are. They both are among the leaders in kills per set, but they have to pour in a lot of inefficient work to get there.
Interestingly, Michigan looks like they rotate in three middle blockers regularly. All of which hit like mids, and block like outside hitters. In more conference superlatives, the Wolverines are last in blocks in the Big Ten, and their opponents have the highest blocks per set.
Libero Hanna Grant keeps busy, digging four a set. Their ability to get the ball of the floor at an average B1G level is, along with raw kills per set, keeping their season off the absolute bottom of the conference standings. This team graduated seven players last year, and just doesn’t seem to be able to work things out with irregular practices and matches.
BONUS Week 8 Sett Action!
Matches between @BadgerVB and Northwestern, originally postponed in March, now are ruled forfeits by NU. Postponements were not COVID-19 related.— Dennis Punzel (@DennisPunzel) March 31, 2021
Both go down as 3-0 sweeps, for those that like to know the official forfeit scoring for different sports.
Elsewhere Around The Conference
Purdue beat Ohio State twice last weekend, so Wisconsin’s cushion for the best winning percentage in the conference grew a bit. This weekend, Illinois tries to snag a quality win against Purdue after being roughed up by the rest of the top teams, and Penn State has one last chance to prove they can still hang with the class of the conference when they travel to Nebraska.
Elsewhere Around The NCAA
April 4th is the tournament selection show. Due to ahem, only 48 teams being picked, the number of at-large bids will be significantly narrowed (he guesses). Wisconsin figures to be one of the 16 teams that will start play on the 15th in Omaha.