Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament, Wolverines improve despite their record

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Photo Courtesy of UM-Dearborn Athletics, Junior Gian Giacomini spikes the ball for the Wolverines.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn volleyball team traveled to Johnson City, Tennessee over the weekend to play four games in the Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament. The team entered the tournament with a 1-4 record.

The Wolverines got started on Friday with a game against the Bethel University Wildcats and the William Carey University Crusaders. 

In the first match of the day, the Wildcats proved too much for the Maize and Blue. After Bethel took the opening set 25-21, UM-Dearborn held a 16-11 advantage early in the second. Unfortunately, Bethel mounted a comeback to earn the 25-19 set victory. The majority of the final set was controlled by the Wildcats and they won 25-20 to sweep the Wolverines 3-0. 

UM-Dearborn was led by freshman Regan Sliwinski, who had eight kills, and junior Gina Giacomini, who had seven kills. Junior Sabrina Giacomini added 14 assists and freshman Delaney Smith continued her strong start to the season with 15 digs.

Later in the day, UM-Dearborn played another tough game against the Crusaders. The Wolverines got off to a solid start in the first set and led 19-17 late. William Carey came storming back, however, to win 25-22. The Crusaders carried that momentum into the second set and dominated UM-Dearborn to take a 25-14 victory. The Wolverines were again stifled by William Carey and lost the final set 25-19 to suffer another 3-0 sweep.

Despite the sweep, the Wolverines had some good performances. Seniors Bronte Michura and Daniella Barile led the team. Michura finished with eight kills, while Barile contributed 13 assists. Smith again played well, finishing with seven digs. 

UM-Dearborn looked to get back to their winning ways on Saturday as they played their final two games of the Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament. 

They first faced off against the Union College Bulldogs in a very exciting match. After tenacious play in the opening set, UM-Dearborn pulled away to earn their first set victory of the tournament 25-19. The Wolverines continued to play well in the second set and held a 19-17 lead. Union then went on a run to take a 24-21 lead, which was answered by a 4-1 run by the Maize and Blue to tie the set at 25. The Bulldogs scored the final two points in a nailbiter to take the set 27-25.

The teams then traded dominating set wins. UM-Dearborn took the third 25-20, while Union won the fourth 25-19 to set up a decisive fifth set. Although the Wolverines jumped out to a 4-1 advantage to open the set, Union quickly answered and was able to take control. They earned a 15-12 victory to hand the Wolverines a 3-2 loss. 

UM-Dearborn played extremely well and came up just short of earning an important victory. The team was led by Michura’s 15 kills, Gina Giacomini’s 12 kills, and Sliwinski’s 11 kills. Two Wolverines also recorded double-doubles. Sabrina Giacomini finished with 23 assists and 16 digs, while Barile recorded 20 assists and 12 digs.

After an exhausting game, the Wolverines came out slow in their second match of the day against the Milligan College Buffaloes. In the first set, the Buffaloes earned a commanding 25-14 win. UM-Dearborn was able to recover in dominating fashion to take the second set 25-13 and tie the match at one. The set win ended up being the last positive of the tournament for the Wolverines. The Buffaloes dominated the next two sets 25-16 and 25-19 to win the match 3-1.

Gina Giacomini led UM-Dearborn with 10 kills. Other notable performances were by Barile, who finished with 20 assists, and Smith, who added 13 digs. 

The tough weekend in Johnson City drops the Wolverines to 1-8 on the season. Their next chance to earn a victory will be in their Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference opener against Lawrence Tech University. The game is at 7 P.M. on September 11th at the UM-Dearborn Fieldhouse in Dearborn, Michigan.