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September 09, 1994 - Image 27

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-09

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 9, 1994 -11.

"Wolverine hitters try to change winless
ways in weekend tournament at home

By TOM SEELEY
Daily Sports writer
Playing one of the biggest opponents of the year in the midst of a four game
losing streak has to be one of the worst cases of timing imaginable. Or is it?
0 That is precisely the situation the Michigan women's volleyball team faces
tonight at 8 p.m. when they host in-state rival Michigan State in the first round of
the Kaepa Volleyball Challenge at Cliff Keen Arena.
A loss in tonight's match against the Spartans could drive the Wolverines (0-
4) deeper into the hole they currently find themselves in. A victory, on the other
hand, could signal a turnaround for the squad and provide them with the
momentum they need to head in the right direction. A win could also boost the
team's confidence before it enters difficult Big Ten play, when it will play the
Spartans two more times.
Despite the incentive of facing such a heated nemesis, Michigan coach Greg
iovanazzi says that this alone is not why performing well in tonight's contest is
'mportant.
"I think we're much more concerned with turning the corner and starting to
play the kind of ball that we're capable of," he said. "But anytime Michigan plays
Michigan State both teams tend to dig a little deeper to try to come up with
something to better their rival."
And as if tonight's game wasn't enough, the Wolverines face two more tough
opponents tomorrow when they square off against Virginia at noon and Pitts-
burgh at 8 p.m. in the final match of the day.
With eight of its 16 players in their first year on the squad, the team has
struggled to clear up the jitters which any athletes playing together for the first
ime experience.
"We have a team that's made up of very good individuals, and it's just been
a struggle for them to get used to new systems and new teammates," Giovanazzi
said. "I think that's why we see so many communication errors and possibly the
number of unforced errors."
These mistakes were evident in Michigan's last match - a four-game loss to
Eastern Michigan. After tying the match at a game apiece, the Wolverines came
to within a point of a third-game victory, but then appeared to come apart at the
seams as the Eagles scored the next five points en route to a 16-14 triumph.
Michigan never recovered from that lapse and allowed Eastern Michigan to roll

'To schedule two top 10 teams right off the bat
shakes your confidence. We've been addressing
confidence issues as much as possible, but
when you go play Stanford and Florida and you
get thumped, it's hard to look in the mirror and
say, "Hey, I'm damn good."'
- Greg Giovanazzi
Michigan volleyball coach
to a 15-9 fourth and final game victory.
Michigan opened the season last weekend at the Florida Gator Invitational
against very stiff competition. In the first two games of the tournament when they
faced Stanford and Florida-ranked No. 1 and No.6 in the country, respectively
- the Wolverines were blown out in three straight games each time.
According to Giovanazzi, this season-opening performance set the stage for
the second-guessing that seems to plague the team right now.
"To schedule two top 10 teams right off the bat shakes your confidence," he
said. "We've been addressing confidence issues as much as possible, but when
you go play Stanford and Florida and you get thumped, it's hard to look in the
mirror and say, 'Hey, I'm damn good."'
One key player that missed the Florida trip was outside hitter/setter Berit
Volstad. The freshman from Forde, Norway was sidelined with a hamstring
injury, and this weekend will be her first action of the season. Before coming to
Michigan, she was a member of the Norwegian National Team and is the
Wolverines' first European player.
While Giovanazzi would have preferred to avoid these early season setbacks,
he enters this weekend's games with an open mind and a focus on what he feels
the season is really all about.
"We can't help but approach these first three pre-Big Ten weekends as finding
out as much as we can before the conference schedule," he said, "because that's
our goal - to try and win this conference."

The Michigan volleyball has dropped its first four contests this year. The
Wolverines play in the Kaepa Volleyball Challenge this weekend, beginning
with Michigan State tomorrow.

Spoiled U.S. Open onlookers begin to take Graf's greatness for granted

The Baltimore Sun
NEW YORK - Imagine being so
good at tennis that no matter how well
you play or how big your margin of
victory, it is not news.
You can breeze through matches at
grand slam tournament like the U.S.
Open.
You can lose an average of only
three games a match over 10 sets and
five rounds, embarrass the likes of No.
10 seed Zina Garrison-Jackson, blow
off quarterfinalist Amanda Coetzer and
all anyone does is yawn.

If this is happening to you, then
your name is Steffi Graf.
The only response to Graf's run to
today's semifinal match against Jana
Novotna has been that of business as
usual.
"Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Graf Triumphs
Again," said the New York Times.
Only when she admitted her admira-
tion for Patrick Ewing and her love of
the New York Knicks did the New
York Post and Newsday find headline
room forher victories with "Steffi Plays
'PAT' Hand" and "Steffi Routs Zina;

Admits Love for Knicks."
Only if she loses to Novotna and
fails to make her 22nd appearance in a
Grand Slam final will Graf be news.
And if she doesn't lose, she will
walk into the post-match interview and
face the prospect of defending her great-
ness.
When she beat Coetzer 6-0, 6-2 in
55 minutes Wednesday, someone won-
dered why she was in such a hurry.
"I'm not really in a hurry," she said.
"But I guess I've been playing well."
Is she on cruise control?
"You're shooting at me now," she
said, smiling, sweeping her long blond
hair away from her face. "Right now, I
mean, I'm just feeling really happy
about the way things are going, really,
every match. I've been playing some
good tennis. My serve is working very
well, and the last two matches, my
concentration was right on. Everything
has just been working well."
There is nothing, she said, that she
could be doing better.
She is perfect.
And perfection has been the story
of her career. At the age of 25, she has
15 Grand Slam titles, including the
Australian Open this year.
Overall, she has won $14.3 million,
and another$1.2 million thisyear, while
winning seven tournaments and run-
ning her 1994 singles record to 56-4.
Which brings us to this current,
peculiar situation where Graf's win-
ning brings mostly disinterest.
Coming into this last Grand Slam
of the season, she was news. She had
lost at the French Open and Wimbledon.
At Wimbledon, the loss was in the first
round, making her the first defending
champion there in the history of the
tournament to lose a first-round match.
"After four or five months where
she had been perfect, almost, she was
like human again," said Pam Shriver,

What Graf's back strain would do
to the women's draw was pondered at
length before the Open began and
speculation was that it would open this
tournament to all comers.
Everyone saw what back trouble
can mean when former men's cham-
pion Ivan Lendl was forced to retire
and hobble off the court in his second-
round match.
But no one considered Graf's te-
"Right now I'm just
feeling really happy
about the way things
are going every
match."
Steffi Graf
Tennis player
nacity. When she heard the specula-
tion, she literally laughed in its face.
"I have such desire to win," she
said. "My desire doesn't increase or
decrease with wins or losses or with
feeling good or bad. It is always there.
I think you saw in Montreal, with my
back like it was, I was still there. I
wanted to be around.
"And I think I have a pretty good

chance to win here and that's what Iam
trying to do."
Once Graf started playing well, there
was little mention of her back. Few
found it amazing that she could per-
form the way she has, with so much
grace under pressure and with so much
discomfort.
"I'm going to the chiropractor ev-
ery day almost," she said. "I'm getting
ultrasound, mobilization, stretching, all
kinds of treatment."
The treatments take at least an hour
and a half every day.

On days of a match, like Friday, it
takes longer.
"I have to stretch very long before
the matches," she said. "I stretch about
two hours."
She stretches two hours to be able to
play so fine that she can be on and off
Stadium Court in less than an hour and
have herperformances taken forgranted.
"It doesn't bother me that everyone
seems to not give me any credit for
making it look easy," she said. "I would {
prefer to be pushed a little bit, but I will
take everything I can get

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For the best in Michigan
sports coverage read the
Michigan Daily every
day. Hey, it's free and
now in color.
C-T
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PERVEDe
Get 1v
OLORED

W k ; r w after the rrench ana w imbedonlosses.
And then Graf developed back
trouble. It started in San Diego and
became almostunbearable in Montreal,
in her final warm-up for the Open.
AP PHOTO Suddenly, she was even more hu-
A bad back hasn't kept Steffi Graf from making a run at another U.S. Open title. man.
. . . . ................................ . .
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