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Michigan Athletics | September 5, 2018

College volleyball: No. 20 Wolverines open the season with best record since 1984

Katz chats with Mikaela Foecka

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Backed by a season-best .363 team hitting percentage, the University of Michigan volleyball team earned its sixth straight win via a sweep with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-20) victory over the Valparaiso Crusaders on Tuesday night (Sept. 4) inside Cliff Keen Arena.

The six-sweep start to Michigan's season is a program-best during the rally-scoring era. The Wolverines have not begun a season with six straight sweeps since 1984.

Michigan posted a season-high .363 hitting percentage in the victory and was led by senior Carly Skjodt, who totaled a match-high 14 kills at a career-best .571 clip. Freshman Paige Jones used a season-high .463 attacking average to add nine kills, while redshirt junior Cori Crocker (.778) and junior Sydney Wetterstrom (.316) tallied eight kills apiece.

Junior setter MacKenzi Welsh guided the Wolverines' efficient offense with 30 assists while also totaling a match-high nine digs.

Michigan came back from a one-point deficit early in the first set to rally for six straight points and a 9-4 lead on a serving run from senior Maddy Abbott. The momentum was short-lived, as the Crusaders answered with a 7-3 run and cut Michigan's lead back to one, 13-12. The Wolverines responded quickly with a big kill from Wetterstrom and used a balanced offense to take the first set, 25-19.

RELATED: Gophers claims top spot, Southern Cal falls despite top-five win in volleyball rankings

The Wolverines dominated the second set as they took a lead at 3-2 on a kill from Crocker and never looked back. A .333 team hitting percentage along with four kills apiece from Skjodt and Wetterstrom allowed the Wolverines to maintain a strong lead and win set two by a 25-13 score.

The Maize and Blue immediately gained an edge in set three on a cross-court kill from Jones and used a .467 attack average to go up by as many as six, 20-14, on a big kill from freshman Lizzie Sadilek. Despite the momentum, Valparaiso gained its composure and went on a 7-2 run -- including four straight points -- to cut Michigan's lead to three, 23-20, before the Wolverines took their first timeout of the night. Following the stoppage in play, Michigan finished things off quickly for a 25-20 third-set victory.

Michigan saw a season-high 16 student-athletes appear in the match, including Sadilek, who made her career debut.

MORE: Eighth-ranked Wisconsin upsets No. 2 Texas in four sets 

The Wolverines (6-0) will return to action on Friday (Sept. 7) as they kick off the Michigan Challenge. Michigan will first play host to Oakland (1 p.m.) before entertaining LSU (7 p.m.) in an evening matchup. The tournament will wrap on Saturday (Sept. 8) with a lone contest against Colorado State at 7 p.m. All three matches will be played inside Cliff Keen Arena.

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