Courtesy: Michigan Athletics
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan volleyball team (2-0) will return home this weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) for the Michigan Invitational Tournament at Cliff Keen Arena. The Wolverines will host Cleveland State on Friday (Aug. 31) at 7 p.m. in their home opener before playing host to Eastern Michigan at noon and Harvard at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 1).
Scouting the Opposition
Coming off a 2017 Horizon League Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Cleveland State Vikings began the 2018 campaign with a 3-0 record as they hosted the CSU Invitational. Through three matches, junior middle blocker Trinniti Hall leads the Vikings with 31 kills at 3.10 kills per set along with 1.30 blocks per set.
The Eastern Michigan Eagles will make the 6.1 mile trek to Cliff Keen Arena this weekend sporting a 3-1 record after opening the 2018 season at the St. John’s Kaiser Classic Tournament. Senior outside hitter Jordan Smith leads the Eagles with 47 kills at an impressive 3.92 kills per set, while senior libero Alyssa LaFace finished the weekend with 68 digs at 5.67 digs per set.
Harvard is one of the few teams in the country that did not play a match last weekend, so the Crimson will head into the Michigan Invitational Tournament with no record. Harvard finished the 2017 season with a 13-10 overall record and an 8-6 record in Ivy League play. For the fifth consecutive year, the Crimson finished top-four in the conference and earned three postseason All-Ivy selections.
Michigan and the AVCA Poll
After a 2-0 weekend to begin the season, Michigan jumped into the AVCA Top-25 Coaches Poll this week and is ranked No. 23 with 180 votes. The Wolverines began the year as the second team out of the top-25 preseason poll, receiving 153 votes, but was ranked No. 19 in the Volleymob.com preseason ranking. Michigan is set to face eight opponents ranked in the top 25 this season after finishing the 2017 campaign with multiple victories over top-ranked competition, including a program-record three consecutive wins over ranked opponents at the end of the regular season.
Lerg Named B1G Defensive Player of the Week
Following sweeps of High Point and Auburn to kick off the 2018 season, senior libero Jenna Lerg was named the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Lerg posted two 20-dig performances over the weekend, with 28 digs against High Point and 24 at Auburn. She averaged 8.7 digs per set and was named the MVP of the War Eagle Invitational.
Welsh Earns First B1G Weekly Setter Award
Junior MacKenzi Welsh earned her first career Big Ten Setter of the Week recognition on Monday (Aug. 27) after averaging 12.14 assists per set and guiding the Michigan offense to sweeps of High Point and Auburn. Welsh posted back-to-back double-doubles and was named to the War Eagle Invitational all-tournament team.
Following a 3-0 sweep of High Point to kick off the 2018 campaign, Michigan is now 33-13 in season openers and has not dropped the first match of a season since a 3-0 loss to Notre Dame to begin the 2005 season.
Wolverines at Home
Michigan’s senior class has posted a 40-10 record at home over the last three seasons, and will look to maintain an edge at home once again this year. Based on the AVCA Preseason Poll, Michigan is already set to host seven matches against top-25 competition this season.
The 2018 schedule will see the Wolverines face 12 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season for a total of 17 matches. The Wolverines’ 18-match home slate will feature 13 regular-season home matches inside Cliff Keen Arena and a record five matches inside Crisler Center.