No. 16 Michigan Aces No. 22 Kansas State at Runza/AVCA Showcase
Omaha, Neb. - Behind a Runza/AVCA Showcase record performance by Juliana Paz, No. 16 Michigan capped an impressive opening weekend with a 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-15, 26-24) victory over No. 22 Kansas State Saturday night in Omaha.
Paz, a senior outside hitter, totaled a match-high 20 kills on .421 hitting, six aces, five blocks and 11 digs for Michigan (2-0). Her six aces matched a Showcase record set by Wisconsin's Lisa Zukowski against Hawaii in 2001. In all, Michigan totaled 13 aces, breaking the Showcase single-match mark of 12 set two previous times, most recently by UCLA in 2000.
On the night, the Wolverines hit .250 while holding Kansas State (0-2) to .128 hitting. JuliAnne Chisholm led Kansas State with 15 kills and three blocks, while Kelsey Chipman added 13 kills in a losing effort, as the Wildcats fall to 0-4 all-time in Showcase contests.
In the opening set, Michigan used a decisive 10-1 spurt to take a 25-19 victory. The Wolverines held Kansas State to .048 hitting, out-digging the Wildcats, 21-16. The first half of the set was evenly contested, as neither team lead by more than two points through the first 28 rallies. With the score tied at 13, Michigan took control, using strong serving from Paz an Sloan Donhoff, as the Wolverines seized the momentum and took a 22-14 lead on a block by Courtney Fletcher and Lexi Zimmerman. Paz led a balanced Wolverine offense with four kills and on nine swings, while Alex Hunt and Megan Bower added three kills apiece. Kelsey Chipman paced Kansas State with four kills on .667 hitting.
The second set featured strong serving from both teams and a pair of runs before Kansas State pulled away late for a 25-22 victory to even the match. Kansas State rebounded from its slow start to hit .258 in the set, as four Wildcats had three kills apiece in set two. Trailing 6-4, Kansas State's Soriana Pacheco sparked a 7-0 Wildcat run with three straight aces, as K-State built a 12-7 lead on a Kathleen Ludwig kill. Michigan came right back, as Hunt's serving sparked a run of six straight Wolverine points to help Michigan regain the lead at 13-12 after her third ace of the run. Michigan had three aces in the set, including three apiece by Hunt and Paz, as her third ace tied the score at 17. The teams would trade points until it was 22-all, when Ludwig's service ace gave the Wildcats the lead for good before kills from Kelsey Chipman and Caitlyn Donahue evened the match a set apiece.
Following the break, Michigan came out firing on all cylinders, hitting .452 in the third set and adding three aces in a 25-15 victory. Paz totaled five kills on just eight swings, while the Wolverines added a trio of aces in the set. Michigan used an early 7-1 spurt to take a commanding 9-2 lead. Kansas State pulled to within 12-7, but Michigan ran off four straight points, making it 16-7 after a Zimmerman service ace and cruised to a 10-point win.
In the finale, Paz was the story as she totaled eight kills on .500 hitting and three blocks as Michigan pulled out a 26-24 win. Leading 10-8, Michigan won four of the next five rallies to build a 14-9 lead. Kansa State fought back, using a 7-2 spurt to pull even at 16 after a block from Chipman and Chisholm. After a Paz kill stemmed the tide, Michigan quickly pushed the lead back to three at 20-17 after a Courtney Fletcher kill. Down 23-21, the Wildcats battled back, getting kills from Ludwig and Chipman to pull even, but could not regain the lead. With the score tied at 24 after a controversial call, Zimmerman went over on two for a kill before Paz's sixth ace of the night ended the match.
*-The six aces by Juliana Paz tied a single-match Showcase record originally set by Wisconsin's Lisa Zubowski in 2001 against Hawaii.
*-Michigan's 13 aces set a single-match showcase record, breaking the mark of 12 set by Stanford (vs. Texas A&M in 1997) and UCLA (vs. Colorado State in 2000).
Michigan Coach Mark Rosen
"I think it was a different kind of match. Last night was easy to get fired up for with the crowd and giant opponent. It was just one of those matches where your body is already going to be fired up. I thought tonight was tougher because there wasn't the same amount of excitement around the match. I thought Kansas State was a tough opponent, they keep balls alive, have a great defense and their setter is very good. There was a lot of pressure that they put on us, and I don't think we were as focused. I was proud of our kids for getting through that. It was good for us to learn. We weren't shooting on all cylinders, yet we still found a way to win. That is something we need to be able to do. You're not going to play your best every night. At the same time, Kansas State is a team that deserves credit because of their defense and style of play. They will frustrate you and make you feel like you aren't playing well."
On any adjustments they made throughout the match
"We had to really keep our offense balanced. We were very out of balance using the outsides a lot. We tried to get balanced; at times we were able to do that. In game three we did a good job of getting everyone more involved. It was still a struggle. It's going to take us a while. We're going to work in the gym on it, work on it in games. It will come. I thought we really had to adjust our serving defense; they served very well, they are an aggressive serving team. I think our personality got quiet and tentative. We weren't really feeding off of each other. The team talked during the break about controlling our own personality."
Kansas State Coach Suzie Fritz
"We've talked a lot about it, that you just can't force it, if you don't have the swing you want, you have to make people play and tonight we tried to force too many things. We talked about before the match that we had to win the serving and receiving battle and I don't think we did either. We didn't go after them with our serve until too late in the match, and I thought they were an exceptional serving team."
Reflecting on the tournament as a whole
"I think on the whole I am very proud of my team for playing hard. To a certain degree that will take us a long way. We talked about - that we are going to take pride in being scrappy and playing with tenaciousness. We still have improvement to be made. There is no better teacher than [playing the matches] - we can practice for two more weeks but it is only going to take us so far. We learned more about our team in two days than we did in 17 days of practice. We learned a lot and we can go back and be better for the experience."
courtesy Nebraska athletics