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December 01, 1997 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-12-01

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8B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - December 1, 1997

VOLLEYBALL

After 16 years, Wolverines make,
debut in NCAA tournament

By T.J. Berka
Daily Sports Writer
College Station is a small college town in the
middle of the Piney Woods of eastern Texas. It is
the home of Texas A&M and a six-story bonfire
on the eve of the Texas A&M-Texas football
game. For the Michigan women's volleyball
team, College Station is paradise, as the
Wolverines head there to play in their first-ever
NCAA tournament, where they'll play Atlantic-
10 champion Temple on Thursday.
"I know nothing about the place," senior setter
Linnea Mendoza said. "I have only been to Texas
once, but I had fun there."
The Texas trip culminates 16 years of hard
work and frustration for the Wolverines. After
being overlooked for a bid in 1995 despite an I -
9 conference record and 19 wins overall,
Michigan finally gets its chance to star in the big
dance.
"We are fired up," Michigan assistant coach
Aimee Smith said. "The team was all huddled
together watching the selection show on satellite
hookup and filling in their brackets. They even
mentioned us as a sleeper team, which was pret-
ty cool"
Michigan clinched the bid this weekend with
victories over Ohio State and Purdue. The
Wolverines finished with program highs in con-
ference and overall victories, with 13 and 20,
respectively.
"It feels great to be in the tournament,"
Michigan coach Greg Giovanazzi said. "There
wasn't a lot of suspense. We knew we were in,
due to our play this weekend and Minnesota's

loss to Illinois."
The Wolverines step into uncharted waters
Thursday when they play Temple. If they beat the
Owls, the Wolverines will play the winner of the
game between Hofstra and 16th-ranked Texas
A&M.
"I like our draw a lot" Michigan coach Greg
Giovanazzi said. "I coached the coach at A&M
,and they we're 16th in the last poll, so it will be
pretty neat seeing her again."
This weekend was also significant because it
was Giovanazzi's 40th birthday, which led to an
improvised reunion of his former players. With
the Wolverines in the tournament for the first
time, there was a lot of pride among current and
former Wolverines alike.
"It's exciting to come back and be here for
this," Smith, a 1995 graduate, said. "The alumni
are just as excited as the players.
"Players who graduated four or five years ago
we're here this weekend and were excited. We
felt we have helped build the program to the
point it is at now."
Michigan starts its postseason schedule
Thursday, but the real source of Michigan's post-
season run came in August, when the Wolverines
were picked seventh in the conference at the
coaches' meeting.
"We were picked seventh, which was really
disappointing because we felt that we weren't
receiving any respect from anybody," Mendoza
said.
"The talrmament bid feels great. When I came
here as a freshman, I wanted to be part of a build-
ing program. I believe we will be recognized

now, both in the Big Ten and nationally.
As it stands, the Wolverines finished in a tie
for third place with Ohio State. The only teams to,
stand in front of Michigan in the Bigen are
Penn State and Wisconsin, who both received
seeds in the tournament.
Six Big Ten teams made the tournament fbr:
only the second time in history. The Big 2 an-
the Pac-lo also sent six teams.
Along with the Wolverines, Buckeyes, Nittany
Lions and Badgers, the Big Ten sends Minnesota
and Michigan State. While the Spartans arein the
Pacific region and the Badgers are in the )tral,-
the Lions, Golden Gophers, and Bucke joip
Michigan in the East Region.
"The NCAA had to do that because the
so many Big Ten teams in the toumajne
Giovanazzi said. "It's a testament to the strengb
of this conference.
This isn't the first time Michigan has been in
the postseason. The Wolverines participated in'
the now-defunct National Intercollegiate
Volleyball Championship in Kansas City in l995
and finished eighth at the American
Intercollegiate Women's Association tournament
in 1981.
The NCAA is different however. Notv'
does it mark a peak in Michigan's building p
gram, it also gives the Wolverines a better shot to
match or better this year's result in the future.
"This will have a huge effect on recruiting and
how this program is perceived," Giovanazzi said.
"U of M is used to success, and now volleyball
can be a part of the athletic department's suc-
cess.

LOUIS BROWN/Daily
J anlne Szczesnlak and the rest of the Wolverines are Texas-bound. The Lonestar State is the sight of
Achlgan's first-ever NCAA tournament game, against Temple on Thursday.

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SPIKERS
Continued from Page 16
Perhaps nervous about Senior Night
or hung over from their victory over
Ohio State the night before, the
Wolverines started out slow, dropping
the first game. Bev Krupa, who led the
Boilermakers with 21 kills on the night,
led the way in the opener.
Michigan returned things back to nor-
mal, smashing the Boilermakers in the
final three games to wrap up their
record-setting 20th win.
"Purdue started a different lineup than
they normally do," Smith said. "They
moved some people around and caught
us off guard. They came out fired up and
scrappy, but we regained control and
dominated the match at the end:'
While the Wolverines honored the
seniors Saturday, it was the underclass-
men who assured a season-ending victo-
ry. Junior Karen Chase matched her
career-high in kills with a match-leading
28. Saturday also marked the fourth con-
secutive match in which Chase has led
the way in kills for the Wolverines.
Chase "should be Big Ten player of
the week this week," Michigan coach
Greg Giovanazzi said. "Linnea Mendoza
did a great job mixing it up, but Karen
was just dominant."

Freshman Sarah Behnke was next on
the kill tally, racking up 18. Junior
Linsey Ebert was next in line with 15
kills and Jeanine Szczesniak added 10.
Mendoza went out in style in her last
match, handing out 66 assists.
After Krupa, Purdue got high produc-
tion from Jennie Williams, who spanked
16 kills. Kelly Colangelo added 13 kills
and Sarah Emke delivered 12.
Friday night marked two historic
moments for Michigan. The
Wolverines', 15-9, 5-15, 15-12, 15-13,
victory over No. 25 Ohio State (12-7,
21-10) not only broke the Michigan
record for conference victories, it also
snapped a 20-game losing streak against
the Buckeyes. The last time that the
Wolverines had beaten the Buckeyes was
Sept. 26, 1987.
"The win was awesome," Smith said.
"We were very consistent and prepared.
We know Ohio State like the back of our
hand, and we really look forward to beat-
ing teams we know so well."
Michigan suffered from the
Thanksgiving layoff at the outset of the
match, falling behind the Buckeyes, 5-2,
in the first game. But Michigan woke up,
as Chase led a 4-1 run to go ahead, 7-6.
The Wolverines then scored eight out of
the final 11 points in the game to prevail.
After being blitzed in the second

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JOHN4*RAFT/Daily
Sarah Behnke may not understand the significance of the Wolverines trip to the
NCAA tournament. The freshman did not endure any of the 16 years of futwiyW

game, Ohio State looked as if they were
going toget its 21st straight victory over
Michigan, scoring the first six points of
the third game.
The Buckeyes extended their lead to
10-5 in the game, but a run of five con-
secutive points by Michigan deadlocked

the game at 10. After trading sideouts,
the Wolverines outscored the Buekeyes,
5-2, to wrap up the rubber game-
"We were getting anxious;' Smith
said. "We were making uncharacteristic
mistakes. We told them to relax and
make them play the ball."

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