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November 23, 1998 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-23

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November 23, 1998 - SportsMonday - The Michigan Daily - 3B

*Wolverines drop sixth straight match
M' volleyball swept by Nittany Lions, Buckeyes in final hornestand

V* * *:

JIM
ROSE

By Jon Zemke
Daily Sports Wnter
One of the most consistent phenomenons in the
1998 Michigan volleyball campaign has been the
Woverines' inability to beat a ranked team.
* Saturday night was not an exception as they were
swept by No. 2 Penn State in front of a season-
high attendance of 936 fans at Cliff Keen Arena.
The Nittany Lions (18-0 Big Ten, 28-0 overall)
put on a clinic with all-around fundamentally
sotnd play to start off the first game, grabbing the
dfrt10 points.
-Michigan sophomore setter Shannon Melka
n % od wo ins, making the ..core 10-2, breath-
e Io t) thW YVITh Ces (4-14, 1 ' 16)
along with an impressive solo block by sophomorec
Joanna Fielder.
A strong service game from senior middle
blocker Linsey Ebert, including two consecutive
aces, cut the deficit in half, 14-7. But Penn State
dashed any hopes of a comeback as the Lions
closed out game one for the win, 15-7.
The Lions "handled balls well and they go after
balls and grovel," senior outside hitter Jane
Stevens said. "They have a pretty strong offense
and blocking."
Penn State ran out to a 5-0 lead in game two and
just kept on running, sprinting to a 15-2 win in the
1 game. Horrendous hitting plagued the Wolverines
and their attack percentage dipped to negative
.154. Penn State registered 11 kills in the game as
Michigan managed just five.

"They were in tune to every single ball being
touched by every single player on their side and
every player on our side," seniot defensive spe-
cialist Chereena Tennis said. "Nothing surprises
them."
Michigan rebounded slightly, playing with the
Nittany Lions down the stretch, but it wasn't
enough as Penn State closed out game three and
the match with a 15-3 victory.
"I'm sad that the team played scared, kind of
tentative," Tennis said. "That's uncharacteristic for
the year."
Fielder led the team in kills with eight and
rerrr2rkable attack percentage cf .462, out-hitting
Pen. St:les tc:-m averue ly 1,v7. She also lcd the
team in blocks witn four.
Melka continued to provide solid setting and led
the team in assists with 12.
The loss to the Nittany Lions extended
Michigan's latest losing skid to six games. The
only time Michigan has beaten a ranked team this
season was Oct. 9 at Rock the House against then-
No. 22 Minnesota.
On Friday night the match with Ohio State was
almost a mirror image of the Penn State match, as
the Buckeyes swept the Wolverines,15-10, 15-6,
15-11.
The first game was filled with streaks as Ohio
State started off with a 7-0 lead. The strong ser-
vice game of Fielder and sophomore outside hitter
Sarah Behnke was instrumental as Michigan
scored nine straight points to go ahead 9-7.

But the Wolverines didn't get a chance for
another streak as the Buckeyes scored all but one
of the next nine points to win game one, 15-10.
Attack errors were Michigan's downfall in game
two as the Wolverines lost, 15-6. Ohio State
jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Michigan scored
two. But the 13 attack errors of the game started to
take its toll and dampened Michigan's solid ser-
vice game. Senior outside hitter Jane Stevens reg-
istered two of her team-leading three service aces
in game two, but it wasn't enough to overcome the
offense's breakdown.
Game three was much more closely fought as
Michigan raced out to a 5-1 advantage. Ohio State
streaked back into the lead, 6-5, by sen inri Ito s
straieht points.
The teams traded points until Michigan eked out
an 11-8 lead behind a very strong service game
led by Behnke, who served three of the points. But
once again, the Buckeyes finished with the
momentum, as they scored the last seven points,
including the last six in a row.
Behnke led the team in digs with 13 and sur-
passed the 100-dig mark for the second time in
two years. She registered 272 digs as a freshman.
Senior outside hitter and all-time Michigan kill
leader Karen Chase led the team with 16 kills and
contributed two blocks. Melka added 17 assists to
lead the Wolverines.
The Wolverines finish out their season on the
road this weekend with matches at Iowa on Friday
and at Wisconsin on Saturday, both at 7 p.m.

Men looking for top-
*four finish at NCAAs

By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Writer
The No. 6 Michigan men's cross
country team will attempt this week-
end to accomplish its final goal of
the year: a top four finish at the
NCAA Championships on Monday.
The team will head out to
Lawrence, Kan., to run on Kansas'
Rim Rock Farm. The course is a
farm owned by former Kansas coach
Bob Timmins. Timmins created the
course and named parts of it after
former runners he coached.
"It's a pretty grueling course,"
Michigan coach Ron Warhurst said.
Michigan will travel to Rim Rock
Farm to battle against powerhouses
Stanford and Arkansas, among oth-
ers, but the Wolverines are confident
in their ability to compete. After
those two teams, the Wolverines feel
they are as good as anyone.
Michigan will likely have its top
runner back, senior All-America
- John Mortimer. The co-captain did-
n't run at NCAA districts this past
Saturday due to a nagging injury.
"We'll see if he's able to run,"
Warhurst said. "And if he's running I
*hope that the other kids will see that
and run better themselves."
Mortimer has practiced three
times this past weekend to get ready
for the Championships and has also
kept in shape by training in the pool
and on the stationary bike.

"I'm hoping he can respond. I'd
like to see him take top 35,"
Warhurst said.
At districts, freshman Mark Pilja
stepped in for the Wolverines and
finished in 29th place in the 10-kilo-
meter race in a time of 32:09.12.
The solid finish guaranteed
Michigan a second-place finish and
automatic berth in NCAAs. The
team finished with 82 points, 24
behind No. 10 Michigan State, who
won the title.
The Wolverines feel that they
would have beaten the Spartans if
Mortimer had run, but they are not
upset about their runner-up finish.
With a secured bid in hand, the
Wolverines are now just looking for-
ward to the championships.
If they are to fulfill their goal, the
Wolverines will need another top-
notch performance from the team's
other All-American, Todd Snyder.
The senior finished second at dis-
tricts in a time of 30:33 on Indiana
State's tough course.
In order for Michigan to contend
for a top-four trophy, it needs Snyder
to come up big again.
The course in Lawrence will not
be easy.
But the Wolverines should be
ready for it, since they have prac-
ticed and raced all year on the
Michigan Golf Course, one of the
toughest courses in the nation.

0io State should be goig to
Pasadena - not Wisemon
OL UMBUS This might not be a very popular opinion back in Ann
Arbor, but it nonetheless needs to be said after recent developments
here: Ohio State deserves a bid to the Rose Bowl more than any other
team. This whole Wisconsin-goes-to-the-Rose-Bowl-because-Ohio-State-went-
two-years-ago thing is pretty ridiculous - and it will hurt the conference
come bowl season.
Ohio State should be in the Rose Bowl, plain and simple. The tiebreaker
system is nice, it looks out for the little guy and helps the occasional one-year
wonder team (read: Northwestern) - but the bottom line is that Ohio State is
unquestionably the conference's best team. And because the Buckeyes are not
playing for a national championship, they should represent the conference in
Pasadena.
Yes, the Buckeyes have said all along that their top choice is Tempe, Ariz.,
for the Fiesta Bowl. And that's the right thing to say. The days of playing for
the conference title are in the past - the current national title-or-bust philoso-
phy takes the most guts and deserves the most credit.
And yes, the Buckeyes still may very well get invited to the Bowl
Championship Series - prevailing theories have them facing Notre Dame in
the Orange Bowl - but the best thing for the conference, no question, would
be for Ohio State to head West, young readers.
Here's why: If UCLA is phased out of a Fiesta Bowl appearance -
because of schedule strength calculations, an entirely likely possibility if
Kansas State and Tennessee win out - the Bruins will stay home and play in
Pasadena.
And, if given the chance, UCLA would dismantle Wisconsin. Period.
The Badgers were exposed by the Wolverines last weekend as a big team
and a bigger disappointment. Sure, the offensive line is huge, but Wisconsin is
slow by even Big Ten standards. UCLA's speed would embarrass the Badgers,
and, by extension, the Big Ten.
Remember last year? Even mighty Michigan, considered throughout the
season to be the nation's best team, had loads of trouble with a speedy Pac-10
representative. And after the Wolverines, the rest of the conference was
embarrassed nationally by second- and third-tier teams from other confer-
ences.
With Wisconsin representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, the same would
happen again this season.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, have the weapons to give UCLA a game.
David Boston is as good as anyone in the country, and Joe Germaine's got
several other options at his disposal, too.
Now, if Michigan showed anything this past weekend, it's that Ohio State
might be vulnerable to the pass - but then, Tom Brady's 375 yards were
enough to put just 13 points on the board. The point? The Buckeyes can take a
punch. They just might be able to stand up to Cade McNown's high-powered
offense.
That's not to say the Buckeyes could beat the Bruins - there might not be
anyone who can do that. But it sure seems as if Ohio State would make a bet-
ter run at it than Wisconsin.
All-Overrated Team captain Ron Dayne against the Pac-10's best team?
Puh-lease. Wisconsin's defense - the one that gave up more than 200 yards
rushing to Michigan - against one of the fastest teams in the country? It
would be embarrassing - for the Badgers, and for the Big Ten.
The inevitable fallout would send the rest of the Big ten reeling. Ohio State.
will be fine. So, in all likelihood, will Michigan. There aren't many teams who
will embarrass the Wolverines like the Buckeyes did. But after those two, the
pickings are slim.
Purdue and Penn State would be the next two choices, and could potentially
head to the Alamo and Sun Bowls, respectively. Purdue's likely opponent in
the Alamo? If the season ended today, it would be Nebraska. Even in off-year
for the Cornhuskers, that could be ugly. The same goes for the woefully-inept-
on-offense Nittany Lions, who could be headed for a date with ... Oregon!
The Pac-10's third-place team averages more than 40 points per game. Penn
State needs a month to score that many points.
Granted, the blame for all of this lies squarely on the shoulders of Ohio
State. Losing to Michigan State, after all, is never a good idea, especially
when a potential national championship hangs in the balance. And this is not
to say that the Buckeyes deserve any kind of national recognition - they blew
it when they lost to the Spartans.
But with their Fiesta chances muffed like a Jason Vinson punt, the
Buckeyes should still represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. Even if
UCLA isn't the opponent, sending Ohio State to Pasadena would be the best
for all involved. Wisconsin would be less likely to get embarrassed playing in
the Citrus or Outback. The same goes for the Big Ten.
But alas, there's nothing that can be done about it - not until the next time
they start reworking these bowl game tie-ins, anyway. So all's rosy for
Wisconsin. Just remember, you heard it here first: When Wisconsin gets anni-
hilated in the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten will wish it wasn't bound to the silly
tiebreaker system that allowed the hapless Badgers to back their way into the
trip.
- Jim Rose urges you to disregard his unfortunate season record in the
Daily 's Staff Picks competition when reading this column (see Page 2B)
He can be reached via e-mail atjwrose@umich.edu
DAILY SPORTS IS LOOKING FOR

TALENTED STUDENT WRITERS
IN THE UPCOMING SEMESTER.
FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CALL THE
SPORTS DESK AT 647-3336 OR STOP
BY 420 MAYNARD ST.

DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily
If John Mortimer returns from an injury to run In today's NCAA Championships, he
and his teammates could high-step their way to the top four.

Mi chigan's McGregor could win it all

Villanova, Brigham
By Evan Braunstein
Daily Sports Writer
Today, Katie McGregor is attempting
to become the best women's collegiate
cross country runner in the nation.
It is certainly not your ordinary
\onday morning.
At 10:30 a.m. central time, the
women's Division I NCAA
Championships take place in Lawrence,
Kan. The Wolverines gained an automat-
ic berth to the championship by placing
second in the regional competition last
weekend, allowing the them to bring
their top seven runners to the competi-
tion.
All season long, McGregor has been
the gem of this team. Today, she finds
erself with the chance to accomplish
something special;" as Michigan coach
P Mike McGuire described it.
McGregor has been in top form all
_season, finishing first in all but one of
the seven meets she entered. Named Big
Ten athlete of the year in cross country,
she set course records at both the region-
al championships and the Big Ten cham-
pionships three weeks ago.
Lately, McGregor has not only been
On a McRoll
KaieMc'~regor h ben rolling t

Young both have good chance at winning

team team title

winning, but blowing away her competi-
tion. At Big Tens, she finished ahead of
Wisconsin's Erica Palmer by six sec-
onds. At regionals, she won by 11 sec-
onds. This is in a sport in which many
races are decided by no more than one
second.
In last year's NCAA meet, McGregor
placed fifth, 19 seconds off the lead. But
she was only one second behind the
third- and fourth- place finishers, and
another year of experience can only help
in her quest. Still, the NCAA
Championship brings together the top
athletes from around the nation, and
McGregor will be challenged more than
she has all season.
"She has to get out to a fast start and
get ahead of the field if she is going to
have a chance;' McGuire said.
Villanova, possibly this year's most
talented team, and defending champion
Brigham Young will most likely contend
for the title. But McGuire, said the rest of
the field is relatively even.
"Villanova is probably the best team
out there," he said. "And (Brigham
Young) is formidable. But there are a lot
of teams that could slip in to the third,

fourth or fifth spots.
"Right now we are ranked seventh,
and I would like to see an improvement
on that."
Along with McGregor, the Wolverines
will be sending All-Americans Elizabeth
Kampfe and Michelle Slater. Kampfe
took seventh at Regionals while Slater
finished behind her in ninth.
As the only Wolverines to finish in the
top 10 with McGregor, this trio has led
the team all season and has the most
experience in NCAA competition. All
three runners have had outstanding sea-
sons, and will have to be in top form if
the Wolverines hope to have success as a
team.
"We have to go out there and run our
best," Slater said. "Everybody is running
the same course under the same condi-
tions. We are hoping for a top four finish,
but nothing will be easy."
Rounding out the seven runners repre-
senting Michigan are Julie Froud, Lisa
Oullet, Katie Clifford and Allison Noe.
Oullet has been strong of late, running
her best race of the season at the Big Ten
championships and finishing in the top
20 last week at regionals.

"It's all
decided (today) at
11: 30a3f
- Mike McGuire,
Michigan women's
cross country coach.

McGuire stressed the concept of run-
ning as a team in this meet, despite the
fact that individual awards sometimes
take precedence.
"The great thing about this meet is
there is no argument as to who is number
one or number two," he said. "It's all
decided (today) at 11:30. There is a
finality to it."

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