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March 21, 1996 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-21

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 21, 1996 - 15A

Jisner nets 400th

By Richard Shin
Daily Sports Writer
Neithersnow norpesky Gophers could
stop the Michigan men's tennis team
from winning No. 400 for coach Brian
Eisner'
Not that both didn't try.
Inclement weather that blew into Ann
,Arbor last night dumped five inches of
ow and made roads hazardous. Fortu-
nately for Michigan; Minnesota had
played at Michigan State the day before
and was able to make the match.
How is that fortunate? Yesterday's
match marked the 400th win for Eisner as
Wolverine head coach, a feat that would
have been delayed at least until Michigan
plays at Northwestern, March 30, had the
match been canceled.
It also enabled Eisnerto break the mark
front of the hometown fans. No. 1
singles player Peter Pusztai expressed
little surprise that Eisner had achieved the
mark.
"He works so hard out here on the
court," Pusztai said. "He's out (on the
courts) all day. He is a good guy - he
definitely deserves it."
It also gave the Wolverines a psycho-
logical boost as they head into the heart of
the BigTen season. Eisner saidthatMichi-
tn did not play extremely well today, but
Badgers,
Irish blow
into tOwn
By Jiten Ghelani
Daily Sports Writer
Just after the city of Ann Arbor made it
through one big snowstorm, the forecast
may be calling for a storm of a different
kind
SThis weekend, heading in from the
west otentially hazardous adversity faces
e Michigan women's tennis team. Cur-
ntly ranked 33rd in the nation, the Wol-
verines are coming off a good showing
against rival Michigan State.
Saturday, the radar shows Notre Dame
"coach Jay Louderback bringing in some
"troubleat approximately 1 p.m. Thehard-
hitting Irish will drop in for a match at
Liberty Sports Complex.
Notre Dame boasts a 13-2 record and is
ranked sixth in the nation. As tough as
-beating the Irish may be, it may be just as
fficult a task to find specific weak-
nesses to exploit.
"(The Irish) are a proven team in the
region," Michigan coach Bitsy Ritt said.
"They're solid at the top and all the way
through."
'The No. 1 singles match should be a
good matchup. For the Wolverines (2-1
Big Ten, 1-3 overall), junior Sarah
Cyganiak will try to upset Notre Dame's
ennifer Hall.
_Hall, a freshman, is already ranked
21st in the country. Cyganiak is No. 61,
but more importantly, is on a roll heading
into Saturday's match. Her seven-game
winning streak and experience may give
her an edge.
Michigan fell short oftopping the Irish
last ycar in South Bend. Notre Dame was
ranked in the top 20 last year and has
shown tremendous improvementthis sea-
son.
The extended forecast calls for more of
e same Sunday against Wisconsin.
Though the stakes are alittle different, the
challenge will be much the same.
Wisconsin is ranked I th in the nation.
The Badgers (3-0,9-1) hope to stay unde-
feated in the conference.
They are strong across the board as

well, Ritt said.
Strong may be an understatement.
Wisconsin has two singles players among
e top 25.
At the top singles spot, junior Melissa
Zimpfer will clash with Cyganiak.
Zimpfer is a transfer from Tennessee and
is playing her first season as a Badger.
Zimpfer should pose a tough challenge
for Cyganiak.
No. 2 singles player Sora Moon also
has her work cut out for her. She will face
the 22nd-ranked player in the country,
Laura Gavaris.
As a team, the Wolverines split their
o matches against Wisconsin last year.
The Badgers upset Michigan in the
quarterfinals of the Big Ten Champion-
ships to finish third in the conference.
Right now, Wisconsin is the best team in
the Big Ten.
No matter the results, Michigan can
only hope to weather the storm. If not for
their sake, then for the cause of Liberty
Sports Complex and the city of Ann Ar-
*or.
"I'm confident that we can play well
and be competitive," Ritt said.

that might actually be encouraging.
"I think the significance of (the win)
was that, to be honest, we weren't very
sharp today," Eisner said. "Minnesota is
a much stronger team indoors than out-
doors - we're just delighted with this
win."
The win yesterday againstatough Min-
nesota team, when all the players seemed
flat, may be a sign that Michigan has
turned the corner. Over the past four
years, the Wolverines have defeatedMin-
nesota only twice, losing twice in the Big
Ten tournament finals the past two years.
Today,the Golden Gophers challenged,
but Michigan was simply too much.
"I think that (Pusztai's) match was a
classic example," Eisner said. "(Minne-
sota No. 1 singles player Ben Gabler) is a
great server and volleyer indoors, and
now (Pusztai's) beaten him three times
(this year)."
The match was decided on the singles
courts, as Michigan scored victories at
first, third, fourth and sixth singles.
The Wolverines also captured the
doubles point, winning two of the three
matches. Four matches went into the third
set, and Michigan prevailed in three of
them.
Michigan had jumped nine places to
No. 14 in the rankings the day before the

victory
match, but the threat of a letdown was not
significant to Eisner.
"Our guys are mature enough to under-
stand that it takes everything we've got,
every time we come out, to be the kind of
team we want to be," Eisner said. "And
that's the definition of a good team."
Missing from the Gopher lineup was
Lars Hjarrand, who sufferedaknee injury
earlier and was unable to compete.
Hjarrand normally plays first singles and
first doubles for Minnesota, and losing
him proved costly.
Michigan won the No. 1 singles match
and also was victorious at first doubles,
clinching the doubles point. Minnesota's
loss was Michigan's gain, and the out-
come may affect future meetings.
"Anytime we beat Minnesota, it feels
great,"Pusztai said. "It definitely gives us
the edge going into Big Tens."
Injuries have plagued the Wolverines
lately,but Eisnersaidthe upcomingbreak
is coming at an opportune time.
"We're beaten up - we got injuries
and everything else and (the Michigan
players) gave everything they had and
fortunately, it was enough today," Eisner
said. "I think with us resting up now and
focusing on our indoor tennis, I think that
we're going to move dramatically for-
ward."

JOSH BIGGS/Daily
Michigan's No. 1 singles player, Peter Pusztal, blasted Minnesota's Ben Gabler yesterday. He also teamed up with John
Costanzo to earn a victory for the Wolverines at No.1 doubles. Michigan beat the Golden Gophers, 5-2.

Streaking Wolverine softball

squad travels to_

Tennessee

By Dan Stillman
Daily Sports Writer
It appears that Mother Nature is not
quite ready for softball season-even
in Tennessee.
The Michigan softball team heads
to snowy Knoxville, Tenn., today, for
this weekend's Tennessee tourna-
mient.
Although it snowed a few inches
there yesterday, a Tennessee spokes-
person remains optimistic about the
tournament.
"It snowed a week ago before a
tournament here, and we played," he
said. "We might have to change a lot
of things around, but I think we'll
play."
So, weather permitting, the No. 10
Wolverines, up five spots in
yesterday's coach's poll, will face a
crop of unranked teams beginning
with Southwest Missouri and
Morehead State tomorrow. Michigan
(16-7) faces Indiana State and Ten-
nessee, Saturday and Austin Peay,
Sunday.
Tennessee,afirst-year program,boasts
the best record of the bunch at 17-7.
Thus far, the Wolverines have lived
up to expectations following last
Michigan hurler Sara Griffin and
teammate Kelly Holmes are the keys to
theWolverines' chances at this
weekend's Tennessee tournament in
Knoxville, Tenn.
MARK FRIEDMAN/Daily
Big Ten tourney next hurdle for spikers

season's seventh-place finish in the
Women's College World Series.
A big key to this season's early
success has been the pitching of jun-
ior Kelly Holmes and sophomore Sara
Griffin.
Last weekend, the two combined
for a school-record six consecutive
shutouts, including a no-hitter by
Holmes against then-No. 20 Illinois-
Chicago.
Earlier in the season, Griffin re-
corded a perfect game against then-
No. 10 Oklahoma.
"One of the reasons we were picked
to do well in preseason polls is be-
cause we have two number one pitch-
ers, not a 1-2 punch," Michigan coach
Carol Hutchins said.
The Wolverines' bats are nothing
to sneeze at either.
Junior utility player Jessica Lang
and sophomore outfielder Kellyn Tate
are both hitting over .400, while
Michigan is batting .382 as a team.
Whilethe Wolverines are perform-
ing well, Hutchins says there are still
things to work on in what will be the
last of four early season weekend tour-
naments.
"Our team needs to continue to get

One of the
reasons we were
picked to do so
well in the
preseason polls is
because we have
two No.1
pitchers"
- Carol Hutchins
Michigan softball coach
better at communicating with each
other and hitting the ball harder with
runners in scoring position," Hutchins
said.
The tournament and next week's
trip to Notre Dame will serve as the
final tuneups for the Big Ten season
which begins next weekend.
"We've got a lot of talent," Hutchins
said. "The key to being successfulfis
to gel together."

r o'

Entertainment includes:
3:30 Indian Classical Dance
3:40 Classical German Songs
3:55 Thai Student Association
Ponglang Dance
4:20 Folk Dancing and Music
from Turkey
4:40 Bichini Bia Congo

Friday, March 22
3:00 - 5:00pm
Sample food from
around the world
15 countries represented .

By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Writer
Motivation helps to relax the anxietyof
a team heading into a tournament. But the
Big Ten championships are not an aver-
age tournament, and the volleyball team
is still searching for its motivation.
The Michigan men'svolleyball team is
approaching this weekend as just another
competition, and are downplaying the
significance of the matches.
The championships, which will take
place Saturday in Columbus, are a chance
to demonstrate the team's talent against
the rest of the conference.
"We know it's really important (to
other teams) and we have something to
prove," Pothiraj said. "But (to us) it'sjust
another tournament so we're going to go
out there and play to the level we know we
can."
This lack of emotion is not representa-
tive ofa lackadaisical attitude but more of
an extended focus. Because volleyball is
a club sport, and teams pay their own
way, the regional playoffs do not require
a team to qualify - they need only to
show up.
The teams to beat this weekend are
Minnesota, Illinois, and the team that
crushed the Wolverines last weekend 15-
5, 15-12, 15-12, Michigan State. With
such stiff competition, the Wolverines
will once again have their hands full in
Columbus.
"We're not looking at anyone as the

team to beat," Pothiraj said. "We'll play
them as they come to us. They're just
guys in jerseys and we'll administer a
plan to try to beat them."
Coach Kent Booker plays a vital role in
the development of this squad, and keeps
each player's mind on the match.
"He knows what to emphasize and he
gets our minds clear to do what we need
to do to win," Pothiraj said.
Michigan sees this weekend as an op-
portunity for redemption. The chance to
gain some significant experience against
quality competition should prepare the
Wolverines well for the regionals.
The team will travel to Ohio State on a
mission to separate themselves from the
rest of the pack. While Illinois and the
Spartans are clearly the class of the con-
ference, Michigan is in a deadlock with a
number of other schools for third place.
The shakedown conies this weekend.
A lot of the lack of stress put on the
tournament has to do with experience as
well. All of the starters traveled to the Big
Ten meet last season so the team has been
through his before.
But the bottom line remains the same
this week as it has every week this season

-- the team still needs to execute.
"Big Tens is just another tournament,
and we've played tournaments before,"
Pothiraj said. "I think everybody should
be prepared and pressure won't be a fac-
tor."
The key to victory has nothing to do
with a lack of talent because the Wolver-
ines are a skilled squad. It has more to do
with an incomplete attention span.
"I definitely think we need to focus
more," Pothiraj said. "Against Michigan
State, the play was slipping and people's
mouths were drooping. Nobody was re-
ally into the match.
"We need to start strong, finish strong
and not relax. We need to keep the same
intensity the whole way through."
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