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October 23, 1992 - Image 11

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-10-23

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The Michigan Daily- Friday, October 23, 1992 -Page 11

'M' LOOKS TO REBOUND AGAINST ILLINI, WILDCATS
Volleyball travels to Illinois

by Rich Mitvalsky
Daily Sports Writer
Heading into the weekend ranked
fourth in the Big Ten, the Michigan
women's volleyball team travels to
one of the most difficult venues for
competition, Champaign, hoping to
upset nationally-ranked Illinois to-
night. The trip concludes at North-
western tomorrow.
The Illini, who hold a 15-4 series
lead versus the Wolverines , enjoy a
No. 8 national ranking, and are sec-
ond in the Big Ten to Penn State.
Led by junior Kirsten Gleis and
sophomore Tina Rodgers, Illinois
boasts a 7-1 record in conference
play and is 17-3 overall,.
The Wolverines, however, hold a
vivid recollection in their minds of
the last two seasons, when highly-
touted Illini squads suffered
convincing defeats at the hands of
the Michigan. Last year, Illinois
entered Cliff Keen Arena ranked as
one the country's finest teams and
lost in four games, with Michigan
pulverizing the Illini by scores of 15-
11, 15-6, and 15-2.
"I think Illinois must be a little

wary of playing Michigan, since the
last two years we have upset them,"
Wolverine sophomore middle block-
er Aimee Smith said. "We've just
got to go down there and play our
kind of volleyball."
In last year's game against the
Illini in Ann Arbor, several new
Wolverine faces got into the rotation
and saw considerable playing time.
This season, and especially in recent
matches, that trend has continued,
with the increased court presence of
senior Chris White and junior Marita
McCahill in particular.
"Marita, statistically, is the
team's best server," coach Greg Gio-
vanazzi said. "And Chris is a senior
who can hit the ball very well. She is
one of the most experienced players
on the team, and is a real leader on
the floor."
Michigan will try to rebound
against Illinois from a lackluster
performance- during the previous
weekend against conference foes
Iowa and Minnesota. While captur-
ing the match against the Hawkeyes,
the Wolverines blew a one-game
lead against the Gophers and

dropped that contest. In his post-
game analysis, Giovanazzi said that
Michigan's record wasn't the only
aspect of its game necessitating a
remedy.
"This weekend our level of play
was low, there's no doubt about it,"
he said. "That is the one area where
we will have to look this week in
practice."
Smith testifies to Giovanazzi's
prognostication of what the week
held in store for the team.
"Our level of play was down, es-
pecially defensively," Smith said. "
But this week in practice we played
hard and with a lot of intensity. I
expect us to come out and play
defense out of our mind at Illinois."
But the Wolverines will have
more than the Illini team to contend
with tonight. One year ago, after
Michigan's upset victory in Ann
Arbor, the Wolverines played in
front of 1,300 angry Illini fans in
Champaign, boosted by one of the
country's few volleyball pep bands.
"This has got to be one of the
hardest places to play in the coun-
try," Smith said. "Before the game,

they turn out the lights and put a
spotlight on each one of their play-
ers. Then, with all of those people ...
it's pretty amazing.
"In practice, Coach has really
been stressing to us that volleyball is it ,
just a process, and that we should
just remain focused. It's all in our
minds. But we aren't intimidated
about playing Illinois, because we
have beat them before. They aren't
as intimidating for us as playing
Penn State."
Tomorrow, the Wolverines will
drive just up the road to duke it out
with the Wildcats, a team in the
throes of a four-match losing streak.
Northwestern (1-7, 6-13) finished
in eighth place in the conference last
season, and has dropped a place
since then. The Wolverines trounced
the Wildcats twice in three games
last season, and expect similar
fortune this time around.
"They are about as good as many
of the teams in the middle of the Big
Ten," Smith said. "We really should MOLLY STEVENS/Daily
handle them, but just like Illinois, Outside hitter JoAnna Collias hits into a pair of Indiana blockers earlier this
you never know." year. The Wolverines take to the road to face Ilinois and Northwestern.

-< - MATCHUPS
Continued from page 10
f..LINEBACKERS: Marcus Walker
- and Steve Morrison continue to lead
4 the linebacking corps from the middle.
Morrison leads the team with 55 tack-
les. Outside linebackers Matt Dyson
/ - and Chris Hutchinson have spear-
headed the pass rush. Hutchinson is
- scod n heleague with 7?sacks.
scn t Minnesota linebacker Andre Davis
MINIMleads the defense with 53 tackles.

Advantage: Michigan
SECONDARY: Michigan's second-
ary continues its hard-hitting ways.
The Wolverines are No. 2 in the con-
ference in pass defense, but will be
tested by Minnesota's passing attack.
Cornerback Alfie Burch is out with a
sprained foot, so freshman Ty Law
will start. Dweayne Ware will also
likely be on the field as a fifthgdefen-
sive back.
The Gophers' secondary was hit
hard by graduation, and will be forced
to help stop the run. Last year, Orbac
found his receivers wide open on deep
routes several times.
Advantage: Michigan
SPECIAL TEAMS: Alexander is de-
veloping a habit of returning punts for
touchdowns. Wheatley is a threat on
kickoffs.
Meanwhile, Chris Stapleton has
entrenched himself as the starting
punter with consecutive impressive
performances. Peter Elezovic still
hasn't clicked as the kicker, though.
Lewis leads the conference in kick-
off returns, averaging 27.7 yards each
time. Dean Kaufman is second in the
conference in punting. Kicker Aaron
Piepkorn is also second in the Big Ten,
converting 13 of 20 field goal attempts,
including a 50-yarder.
A
Advantage: Minnesota

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MICHELLE GUY/Daily
Derrick Alexander has already returned two punts for touchdowns this season, including this one against Iowa.
The junior will try to lead the Michigan special teams against Minnesota this weekend in Ann Arbor.

GOPHERS
Continued from page 10
MSU's backup quarterback. The
demoralization of the loss could give
the Golden Gophers some attitude.
But no matter what Moeller's
thoughts or how much motivation-
Minnesota may muster, this season
can still be termed a rebuilding one
for the Gophers. Minnesota wel-
comed new coach Jim Wacker from
TCU this season and with him, a
pass-oriented offense.
At the helm of the new system is
senior quarterback Marquel Fleet-
wood. Fleetwood has adjusted rela-
tively well; he now leads the Big
Ten in total offense. He has com-
pleted 136 of 272 attempts for 1,522
passing yards this season.
The Golden Gophers expressed
concern before the start of the season
about who would be at the receiving
end of Fleetwood's throws, but
Omar Douglas has quelled most
worries. Douglas leads the confer-
ence in receiving yardage.
But along with Minnesota's in-
creased yardage through the air
comes more turnovers. Fleetwood
threw for three interceptions against
the Spartans and has 12 on the year.
5TH AVE. AT LIBERTY 711-700

"The interceptions have been a
problem," Wacker said. "And then
we're not coming up with our fair
share. We're minus-six in giveaway
and takeaway."
The Gophers biggest problem
this weekend will be the Michigan
defense. The Wolverines have
proved their ability on the pass rush,
especially against Houston's run and
shoot earlier in the year. Michigan
stifled the Cougars' offense through
the air and could prove lethal to the
Gophers as well.
A saving grace for Minnesota is
Fleetwood's ability to scramble and
avoid the rush, often gaining yardage
on the ground. Also, if the Golden
Gophers are forced to look more to
the ground game, they can rely on
Antonio Carter, who stands fourth in
the league in rushing yardage.
In addition to keeping its passing
game afloat, Minnesota's other
tough task remains to halt Mich-
igan's running game, something all
other Big Ten teams that have faced

the Wolverines have failed to do.
The Spartans mustered only 69 yards
rushing against the Gophers, but
their number-one running gun, Tico
Duckett, had to leave the contest
because of injury.
Michigan, on the other hand, em-
ploys the skills of running backs
Tyrone Wheatley, Jesse Johnson,
and Ed Davis. Plus fullback Burnie
Leggette will return this weekend
while Ricky Powers is probable to
play, furthering the Wolverines'
strength and depth in the backfield.

_ _ _

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