The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - November 9, 1992- Page 7
Water polo squeaks past Northwestern for Big Ten title
J n CtMOLLY STEVENS
JoAnna Collias is stifled by a pair of Penn State blockers. Michigan lost a pair of key matches this weekend.
Spike rs fall to Penn state, OSU
by Erin Himstedt
Daily Sports Writer
It's a long drive from Ann Arbor
to Madison, but for the Michigan
water polo team, it was well worth
At the Big Ten finals this week-
end at the University of Wisconsin,
the Wolverines earned their second
consecutive conference title. Not
since Northwestern accomplished
that feat in 1984-85 has a team won
Michigan, the No. 1 seed coming
into the tournament, soundly de-
feated Iowa (22-4,) Ohio State (15-
5,) Indiana (13-5,) and Illinois (13-
10) in preliminary round-robin play.
None of the early matches were a
serious challenge to the team.
"Those games were pretty un-
eventful," Michigan coach Scott
Russell said. "We were the No. 1
team coming into the tournament,
and I think that really showed."
"Even the game Saturday night
versus Illinois was not as close as it
seems; we had it in hand the whole
The ease with which the Wolver-
ines handled their first matches also
allowed the players to save their
strength. This may have given the
team a critical advantage in its final
The Wolverines played Wiscon-
sin in the semifinal match. Surpris-
ingly, Michigan's arch-rival, Michi-
gan State, had not advanced past
pool play, or qualifying rounds. The
Wolverines swam past the Badgers
with a score of 14-7.
"Any time you play the home
team, you've really got to be ready
to play. We came out and really
controlled the tempo of the game;
getting a sizable lead in the first half
really helped us," Russell said.
"Wisconsin's a tough team. We just
were able to get on top early and
then just stick to our game plan."
The final game against North-
western was the drama of the week-
end. It was a hard-fought battle be-
tween the best two teams in the
conference that saw the Wildcats
come from behind in the fourth
quarter to send the match into
"The team. from Northwestern
played a phenomenal defensive.
game against us; we never got up by
more than two goals," Russell said.
"Northwestern scored a goal with
twelve seconds left; that was a big
emotional lift for them."
But the Wolverines were able to
hold on during overtime, scoring
two more goals and capturing the ti-
"Every time we play Northwest-
ern it's usually a hard-fought game.
We really feel fortunate to win the
game. When the intensity was up
and the game was on the line, our
offense stepped up and really came
through for us. (Co-captain) Aaron
Frame scored the winning goal with
twelve seconds left to go."
Russell attributed much of his
team's success to the superior goal-
tending of senior Sam Chuang.
"Sammy really stepped up this
weekend. He was the best goalie
here. Anytime you've got strong
goaltending, you've got a good de-
fense to win the championship."
Several other Wolverines were
also recognized for their perfor-
mances. Sophomore Ben Ewy was
the tournament MVP. Ewy, Chuang,
Drew Hansz, and David Prince were
named first team all-Big Ten.
Freshman Pat Hanchin was named
to the second team; Frame and John
Miedler were honorable mentions.
Having realized their season-long
goal of back-to-back conference ti-
tles, Michigan now proceeds to the
Midwest Regional Championships
next weekend. This event is the pre-
cursor to the NCAA finals. Russell
hopes to win the regional contest,
but is very pleased with what his
team has already achieved.
"No matter what happens next
weekend, we'll consider this season
by Scott Burton
It could have been a ground-
,breaking weekend for the Michi-
gan's women's volleyball team.
Taking on top Big Ten foes Penn
State and Ohio State, the
Wolverines could have taken sole
possession of third place in the
" conference and almost assured
themselves a playoff berth.
Instead, after flirting with victory
in both matches, Michigan was
defeated and put in an almost
* must-win situation for the rest of
Saturday's match with Ohio
State was summarized for the
Wolverines by senior setter
Tarnisha Thompson in one word
- "disappointing." Michigan,
after seeming poised for a triumph
in the fourth set, saw the
Buckeyes take advantage of
Michigan's mental errors late in
the match to steal the contest, 13-
15, 15-1, 11-15, 15-12, 15-6.
"I don't think we kept up our
mental toughness up against Ohio
State and I think if we did we
would have come out on top,"
junior middle blocker Fiona
" Davidson said. "We were having
problems passing the ball and if
we can't pass the ball, we can't
Saturday's match saw the
return of junior star Michelle
Horrigan who sat out Friday's
match with a leg injury. She
didn't lose a step in her return,
leading the Wolverines with 15
kills and 11 digs. Aimee Smith
belted 12 kills of her own and
matched Horrigan with 11 digs.
Setter Tarnisha Thompson set
another record for the Wolverines
in the contest. Having already set
Michigan's all-time assist record
earlier in the season, she broke
Michigan's season assist record.
She finished the match with 43
Friday's match with No. 8
Penn State, although a straight-set
loss, was a much more positive
night for the Wolverines. Even
without Horrigan, Michigan more
than held its own with the Nittany
Lions and even came close to
snatching a set. The 15-11, 15-2,
15-10 loss was not indicative of
how close the match was and it
was an encouraging sign that the
Wolverines were on the road to
being a premier team.
"We dodged a bullet tonight,"
Penn State coach Russ Rose said.
"I thought Michigan played a
great match. They are a team on
the rise and they certainly will
have to be reckoned with."
" We are a team that's getting
to be a great team and our
improvements are coming in leaps
and bounds," Michigan coach
Greg Giovanazzi said. "Through
(some) points we played as good a
volleyball as we have all year. I
am very pleased the way we came
out and played with that team."
Aiding Michigan's effort
against Penn State was the record-
breaking crowd at Cliff Keen
Arena. The Michigan hockey pep
band joined the 2,137 fans in
cheering the Wolverines on in the
"The crowd was great and I
think that that many people come
out and support us is great'"
Without Horrigan, people like
Aimee Smith, Chris White and
Suzy O'Donnell were asked to
pick up the slack for the
Wolverines. They responded in
spectacular fashion, contributing
to a solid defensive effort by
Michigan in the match and
matching the Lions kill-for-kill.
Smith led all Wolverines in
kills with 13 and sported an
impressive .333 hitting per-
centage. Fiona Davidson added
nine kills and two service aces.
With the loses on the weekend,
Michigan falls to 8-6 in the Big
Ten, fourth place behind Ohio
State in the conference. But the
Wolverines remain positive and
look forward to next weekend's
key matchup with Minnesota that
could determine which teams from
the Big Ten go on to the NCAA
"I think there are a lot of good
things to build on from this week-
end," Davidson said. "We will just
have to go out and keep on doing
the things we are doing right."
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