8B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - September 30, 1996
Big Ten volleyball
title up for grabs
By Sharat Raju
Daily Sports \\ rier
Big Ten women's volleyball doesn't
have a catchy slogan. But if it did, it
would be probably something like, "Big
Ten women's volleyball - it's pretty
Actually, that would be an under-
Michigan, as did the rest of the con-
Ibrence, began Big Ten play over the
weekend, well aware of the strength of
the conference. Three teams were unde-
feated, four were ranked in the nation's
top 15, and the Big Ten had a combined
winning percentage of .689 during the
bon-conference portion of the season.
"If it's not the toughest conference,
it's one of the top three," Michigan
coach Greg Giovanazzi said.
Although they had the worst non-
conference record in the Big Ten at 5-6,
the Wolverines have had a very difficult
schedule, marked by a season opener
against No. I Hawaii.
But that's all in the past. What lies
ahead is a rough Big Ten conference out
for blood. The Wolverines found that
out with a difficult weekend, being
beaten by both Iowa and Illinois. The
journey is just beginning and here's a
look at what's to come:
In the pre-season Big Ten coaches'
poll, Michigan State was slated to fin-
ish first in the conference. Not surpris-
ing, since the Spartans advanced to the
NCAA semifinals last season. Even
though they have a not-so-impressive 6-
4 record to begin the season, the
Spartans are still ranked ninth, losing to
three top 10 teams.
Michigan State's roster boasts last
season's Big Ten freshman of the year,
Jenna Wrobel, and returning first team
All-Americans Val Sterk and Dana
The Wolverines travel to Michigan
State on Oct. 4 and host the Spartans on
Penn State is currently undefeated
and -ranked second in the country. Led
by 1995 Big Ten player of the year
Terri Zemitis, the Lions are a strong
team. Lauren Cacciamani and Brooke
White also lead Penn State's powerful
The Lions host the Wolverines on
Oct. 19 and visit Ann Arbor on Nov. 15.
"Ohio State probably runs the best
offense in the country' Giovanazzi said.
No. 8 Ohio State has won four tour-
naments and all 11 of its matches this
season. Setter Jen Boleyn leads the bal-
anced offense, along with Vanessa
Wouters' team-leading 4.85 kills per
The Buckeyes face the Wolverines in
Columbus on Oct. 18 and travel to Cliff
Keen Arena on Nov. 16.
Wisconsin is the last of the national-
ly-ranked Big Ten teams at No. I1.
Setter Laura Abbinante is regarded by
many as the best setter in the confer-
ence (13 assist average), and she is the
all-time leader at Wisconsin in that cat-
egory. The Badgers surprised many last
year by winning the NIVC tournament
(the post-season tournament for the
teams that didn't qualify for the NCAA
tourney), although they finished sev-
enth in the Big Ten.
"They're a well balanced team and a
little bit more volatile than the rest of
the top teams," Giovanazzi said.
The Badgers visit Michigan on Oct.
I I and host the Wolverines on Nov. 9.
Minnesota, picked to finish eighth in
the coaches' Big Ten poll, relies almost
entirely on Katrien DeDecker. She leads
the conference and is second in the
nation in kills with six per game, and she
also leads the team in digs with 147.
The Wolverines host the Gophers on
Oct. 12 and travel to Minnesota on Nov.
If there's a team that can sneak up on
the rest, it's Purdue. The Boilermakers
have a veteran team, led by seniors
Lauri Grimes and Brooke White, who
each average close to five kills per
game. Setter Linda Menconi leads the
conference in assists with 629, a 13.38
As with all the lower-ranked teams in
the conference, Indiana is no slouch.
Jen Magelssen and Julie Flatley lead
the virtually mistake-free Hoosiers.
They ended last season on a tear, win-
ning 10 of their last 13 games, and they
hope to build on that momentum going
into conference play.
The Hoosiers visit Michigan on Oct.
25 and host the Wolverines on Nov. 29.
Again, the team slated to finish last
in the conference is Northwestern.
However, the Wildcats were 9-4 enter-
ing conference play, further demon-
strating the strength of Big Ten volley-
The Wildcats host the Wolverines on
Oct. 5 and travel to Michigan on Nov. 1.
When it comes right down to it, the
Big Ten conference title is definitely up
in the air. Every team can beat every
"We can compete with any of the
teams in the conference and beat any of
them at least once," Giovanazzi said.
Kristen Ruschiensky and the Michigan women's volleyball team couldn't spike Iowa and Illinois this weekend. They fell to the
Hawkeyes and Hoosiers in five games on the road, dropping their first Big Ten games of the season.
volleyball drops 2
road matches in 5 games
By Chris Farah
D a rt\Wrie
There may have been doubts that the
talented but young Michigan women's
cross country team would rise to the
challenge presented by strong competi-
Those doubts are now as blown-away
as Michigan's opponents were at the
Miami (Ohio) Fall Classic Invitational
The Wolverines scored 24 points and
outdistanced themselves from second-
place Bowling Green. which finished
with 53 points. Miami (Ohio) finished
third with 71 points.
Last year, the Falcons qualified for
the NCAA championship meet.
This year, they were only a small hur-
dle on the Wolverines' road to success.
Big Ten rivals Indiana and Ohio State
provided even less of a challenge to the
Wolverines. The Hoosiers and Buckeyes
placed fifth and seventh, respectively, in
the field of 12 teams.
Michigan captain Jen Barber, one of
the few seniors on the young squad,
said the Wolverines were surprised but
pleased by their dominance.
"We were expecting some pretty
good competition from Bowling
Green, and we knew some girls from
Miami were runing well Barber said.
"We didn't actually go in thinking i
would be an easy win, which it turned
out to be.
Barber rounded out, the top-five
Michigan runners, who were led by red-
shirt freshman Allison Noe. Noe came
in second overall with a time of 18:25.
Sophomore Katie McGregor, fresh-
man Elizabeth Kampf e and redrhirt
freshman Marcie Akard filled in the
gap between Noe and Barber, though
describing the space between the run
ners as a "gap" may be an exaggera-
None of Michigan's top-five runners
placed lower than eighth overall out of
a field of more than 100 runners.
Despite his team's impressive show-
ing, Michigan head coach Mike
McGuire said the Wolverines did not
run up to their potential on Saturday.
"We had a great effort out of Marcy
Akard and (redshirt jun ior Tiff in
Guillemette, our sixth runner, an
Allison Noe ran another good race"
McGuire said. "Other than that, I'd say
we had good efforts, (but) there was
nothing really outstanding."
Barber was one of the Wolverines
who wasn't entirely happy with her per-
formance, and she felt that she and some
of her teammates needed to be more
competitive down the final stretch.
"Some people had great races, bi
we shouldn't be getting passed by peo-
ple in the last mile" Barber said. "I
was one of those culprits."
Barber attributed some of the prob-
lem to the poor running conditions.
"(The course) was really softand
very mushy" Barber said. "We were
splattered and wet near the finish. It
was kind of' fun, but it was slower than
By Kevin Kasiborski
Daily Sports Writer
The curtain opened on the second act
of the Michigan women's volleyball
team's season this weekend, and the
reviews are far from glowing.
The Wolverines started the Big Ten
portion of their schedule with a pair of
five-set losses, falling at Iowa and
Illinois. In both matches, N ichigan
squandered two-games-to-one leads.
"We're hitting the numbers that it
takes to win," Michigan coach Greg
Giovanazzi said. "But we're suffering
from the same problem that we had early
in the year, which is were not closing out
Michigan's only other five-set match
this season was Sept. 20 against Notre
Dame. The Wolverines led two games to
one in that match before losing in five.
Iowa topped Michigan (0-2 Big Ten,
5-8 overall) on Friday, 4-15, 15-12, 11-
15. 15-9, 15-10. The Wolverines are now
3-12 all-time in conference openers.
Entering the match, the Wolverines
felt that Iowa (1-1, 6-7) was a team they
should be able to handle. The Hawkeyes
were picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten.
"We won the first game, and we were
way up in the second game. I don't think
we went into cruise control, but we did
not put them away.
"I'm not sure it's a lack of killer
instinct, I think it's just a matter of do we
believe we can win those games?"
Sophomore Karen Chase led
Michigan with 23 kills and .340 hitting
percentage to go with 23 digs. Sarah
Jackson, a junior, had 18 kills, a .389 hit-
ting percentage and eight block assists.
Senior Shareen Luze contributed 21
kills. and junior setter Linnea Mendoza
had 66 assists.
"Iowa made a tremendous amount of
mistakes," Giovanazzi said. "But they
didn't let that stop them from playing
ball, which I have to give them a lot of
Jennifer Webb had 29 kills and 23 digs
for Iowa. Jill Oelshlager had 18 kills and
a .417 hitting percentage. Barb Zvonek
had 70 assists, and Jennifer Bell added
four service aces.
Saturday, the Wolverines traveled to
Illinois, where they've never won.
Their losing streak continued in
Champaign as the Fighting lIlini (2-0, 7-
3) topped Michigan, 15-10, 12-15. 3-15,
15-13, 15-8, before a crowd of 2,401.
"We've got some people that are play-
ing really good ball except down the
stretch," Giovanazzi said. "Both of our
fifth games this weekend were just real-
ly poor efforts."t
Chase again led the Wolverines,
recording 17 kills. She also had two solo
blocks and two block assists. Sophomore
Linsey Ebert had a solo block to go with
four block assists, and she and Luze had
14 kills apiece. Mendoza had 54 assists,
and Szczesmak, a sophomore, con-
tributed three aces and 15 digs.
Sophomores Mary Coleman and
Tracey Marshall were the top Illinois
attackers with 26 and 23 kills, respec-
tively. Freshman Kelly Scherr 23 digs
and two solo blocks. Heidi Coulter, a
junior, had 40 assists and three aces.
"As a coach I look at this weekend and
say statistically we are doing things real-
ly well Giovanazzi said. "We're playing
a good level of volleyball, but we're not
Next week for Michigan the schedule
only gets tougher. The Wolverines will
be traveling to East Lansing for a match
with the ninth-ranked Spartans on Friday
in Match 1 of the "State Pride" series.
On Saturday they will be in Evanston to
take on Northwestern.
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