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October 06, 1998 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-06

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 6, 1998 - 13

iovanazzi' s mood improving after weekend

By Jon Zemke
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan volleyball coach Greg Giovanazzi
was a much happier man this weekend than he
was 10 days ago.
After dropping the first two games of the Big
Ten schedule to mid-tier teams Sept. 24-25,
Giovanazzi was looking for betters play from his
team for the rest of the season.
While sweeping the Northwestern match
Friday and taking each game of the Indiana loss
to the wire the next night, Giovanazzi found the
solid play that had been lacking the previous
weekend.
It was "a great improvement over the first
weekend of the Big Ten (schedule)," Giovanazzi
said. "I feel like last weekend was the low point
of the season. This weekend was really good
emotionally. Michigan's players "played at a high
level in that sense."
The win over Northwestern gave the
Wolverines their first win in Big Ten play, bring-
ing their conference record to 1-2 before the next
match, the loss to Indiana.
STEPPING FORWARD: The night of Sept. 26,
after the Illinois debacle, Giovanazzi issued a
challenge to his team. He wanted a team leader to
step forward and make this year's squad a team of
her own. Last weekend during the road trip, one
player started to distinguish herself from the rest
of the team.
Jeanine Szczesniak, a senior outside hitter, led
the Wolverines in hitting percentage (.313) and
kills (7). She also was second on the team in digs
and assists, contributing six in each category.

Against Indiana, she led in kills with nine, digs
with I I and blocks with two.
Szczesniak "was solid Friday night,"
Giovanazzi said. "She carried a big load in the
hitting department, and she is somebody that
always scores a lot of points for us serving that's
one of those things that I think really goes uno-
tice - at least maybe by her teammates - and
it's really an important statistic"
Giovanazzi also complimented her for playing
well in her home state of Illinois He added that
she always seems to pick up her play whenever
the team travels there.
With six digs, Szczesniak crossed the 100-
mark for the season. The I1 digs at Indiana put
her at 9&7 for her career. With 13 more she will
become just the fourth Wolverine to reach 1,000.
HANDS UP: One ofGiovanazzi's main concerns
heading into the road trip this past weekend was
his team's blocking. After Illinois outdistanced
Michigan in attacking percentage by 200 per-
centage points (.336 to .136), blocking had
become a major concem.
The problem was temporarily corrected with a
season-high in total blocks (20) against
Northwestern. The Wolverines also had 36 block
assists and held Northwestern to a .043 hitting
percentage. Michigan's service game contributed
to its superb blocking numbers.
But the blocking problem reappeared Saturday
against Indiana, as Michigan recorded just two
blocks all evening. Giovanazzi went on to warn
his team about such inconsistencies.
They "need to be a bigger presence both in
blocking and in defense," Giovanazzi said.

M' pair double trouble for opponents
The Michigan volleyball team lost its all-time assist leader when setter
Linnon Mendoza graduated in May. One of the main questions coming
into this season was who would be able to replace Mendoza. Freshman
Shannon Melka and sophomore Alija Pittenger have answered that ques-
tion with authority, helping lead the Wolverines to a 9-5 start. The duo
has combined to better Mendoza's freshman assist average.
First-year setter stats
Melka Pittenger Mendoza 1994
Games 50 48 67
Assists 283 335 558
Assists/game 5.66 6.98 8.33

Joanna Fielder and the Michigan volleyball team shook off the
doldrums Friday, sweeping Northwestern. Depression returned
Saturday against Indiana though when Michigan was swept.

Character not a question for 'M'

POOT BALL
Continued from Page 11
display of emotion. "When you make
a) big play, you just want to cele-
brate."
CLEAR SKIES AHEAD?: Two weeks
ago, ESPN analyst Lee Corso
atacked Michigan's character and
toughness. Now, after two victories
and displays of sonse solid defense,
*so may have to eat his words.
As a starter on a rapidly improv-
ing defense - Michigan hasn't
allowed a touchdown in its last six
quarters -- Hendricks said that, as a
defense, they're only focusing on the
task at hand.
"We can't worry about what the
offense is doing," he said. "The guys
in the secondary are the support."
Nose tackle Rob Renes was
e ally supportive.
The heart hasn't dropped at
JUST NINE DAYS
UNTIL FACEOFF.
* READ DAILY
SPORTS.

Michigan," Reses said after
Michigan's narrow victory. "To start
out with two losses is tough.
"I hope this will be a jumping-off
point" for the rest of the season.
Michigan's senior class is loaded
with impact players on both sides of
the ball, so mistakes such as the ones
in Saturday's game - five turnovers
- aren't magnified as much in their
eyes.
"It's the seniors' job to keep
everyone calm," Jerame Tuman said.
"Everything we did wrong are things
we can correct."
While Tom Brady blamed much
of the troubles on the elements,
Tuman was more reluctant to shift
the blame.
"It was all mental," he said. "We
can't determine what the weather
does. Every guy on this team, at
some point, has played in these type
of conditions."

As for the offense's ineptitude,
captain/offensive tackle Jon Jansen
believes the powerful Michigan
offense - the one from the
Michigan State game - still lurks
within Schembechler Hall.
"I have confidence that we can go
down and score when we need to
score," he said.
TIDE SOFT LooK: For the
Michigan players, entering the visi-
tors lockerrom at Iowa's Kinnick
Stadium must have been a bit of a
shock.
The Wolverines, who hadn't
played in Iowa City since 1994,
stepped into their hallway and team
room only to discover all of the walls
were painted a plushy pink.
The humor in the situation was
lost on Michigan Athletic Director
Tom Goss.
As a former player, Goss just
shook his head in disgust.

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