October 26, 1998 - SportsMonday - The Michigan Daily - 38
,Wisconsin blasts 'M'; spikers beat Iowa
By Jon Zemke 16 Ny middle blocker Linsey Ebert and
Daly Sports Writer 10 by middle blocker Joanna Fielder.
Y Answers outnumbered questions after The improvement in kill production
the Michigan volleyball team beat Iowa was made possible, in large part, by
on Saturday night. But that was only pos- freshman setter Shannon Melka's best
sible after many questions arose Friday performance of the season. She con-
a Wisconsin swept Michigan. tributed 41 assists and a crucial block at
fer talking to his team before the the end of the second game, along with
Iowa match, Michigan coach Greg perhaps the best setting of the season.
iovanazzi told exactly what he expect- "I just went out there and set," Melka
ed from the team Saturday night. said. "I just knew I had to work as hard
I want them ... not to win a three- as I could."
gamer that Iowa gave us, and not lose a Friday night was a much different
three-gamer that we gave to them," story for the Wolverines, as they were
iovanazzi said, "but to have a four-or- swept by Wisconsin.
five game match where we were down "We wouldn't beat anybody that
and came back." we've played all year" with that kind of
Nothing could have been closer to the performance, Giovanazzi said.
truth, as Iowa jumped out to a one-game The team held a closed-doors meeting
lead by beating Michigan 15-1l. But the after Giovanazzi finished his postgame
Wolverines came back in a close second speech. Outside hitter Karen Chase said
*me scoring the final four points to win "a lot of strong words were being used."
it. A big reason for those strong words
The third game saw the first Michigan was service reception, which was the
shutout since 1996, when the team Wolverines' downfall as Wisconsin
blanked Eastern Michigan in the third recorded 10 service aces in the match,
game of a match against the Eagles. six of which came in the first game.
Jane Stevens served the first seven Passing was also a major concern for SAVuDRdCHKIND/Daity
points and continued to provide solid Giovanazzi after subpar play from a few Fundamentals helped the Michigan volleyball team defeat Iowa on Saturday.
passing for the rest of the match. The of his outside hitters. The growing pains The Wolverines stuck with the Shawna Olson her first career appear-
fourth game and the match played into of trying to find a setter to step up also Badgers for the first game as the teams ance. The experiment ended with the
rchigan's hands as they won 15-10. contributed to the poor showing Friday. traded points back and orth. But second-string players gaining experi-
The Wolverines improved in service "I am as grateful as I can be that they Michigan was outplayed, a Wisconsin ence, and a Wisconsin rout of the second
cption with solid passing, allowing have a match tomorrow night," pulled through 15-8. and third games, 15-3, 15-2.
.Ol just serving aces. Giovanazzi said after Friday's loss. "I In the second and third games, Michigan takes on Indiana at Cliff
A total of 68 kills were registered by think they only way that we can reclaim Giovanazzi subbed in a lot of new play- Keen Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. to start
heWolverines, including 25 by Chase, our identity is to be in competition." ers, including giving defensive specialist the second half of the Big Ten season.
Shutout propes Blue to viory over owa
y Sports Writer
The last time the Michigan volleyball team record-
qa shutout in a game was in 1996, in the first game
oa match against Eastern Michigan. In that game,
en-sophomore Jeanine Szczesniak served all 15
Given the team's recent sub- ----------
-par level of play, there was no Volleyball
reason to expect a shutout Notebook
etrday against Iowa. But in
e third game of the match, -----------
Michigan came out blazing. Senior captain Jane
Stevens served the first seven points of the game, and
the Wolverines never looked back, breaking their
streak and blanking Iowa 15-0.
Michigan coach Greg Giovanazzi admitted that
between games two and three, "All we did was talk
about technique and what they were running offen-
sively against us. We came out and served them tough
and our confidence rose"
Giovanazzi also credited good blocking and solid
ssing and said that the team was looking for retri-
butipn after being blanked by Penn State last week-
SETTING THE POSITIONS: Up to this point, sopho-
more Alija Pittenger and freshman Shannon Melka
have been splitting time at the setter position. After
the Wisconsin eame, Giovanazzi said that "we will
continue the rotation and there is no set starter."
Pittenger started against Iowa, but it was Melka
who played in the last three games.
"I'm very confident that when we come in Monday
that Shannon's our starter and that will give us some
of the continuity there that we've been looking for,"
Melka said that being the starter doesn't faze her
even though she knows that Pittenger is very capable
off the bench.
"I just go out there and set and know that I have to
work as hard as I can," Melka said, "I think the only
pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself. I have
very high expectations for myself and for the team."
SLIDING TO vICTORY: The Wolverines use a play,
called "The Slide," where either Szczesniak or sopho-
more middle blocker Joanna Fielder, off a back set
from Melka, run from the middle to either side for a
spike. The play, which Szczesniak preformed perfect-
ly all six times against Iowa, is used for two reasons.
First, Melka is skilled enough to perform the first
part of the difficult maneuver.
"I think Shannon has a really good concept of how
important it is that we run the slide play to both
Jeanine and Joanna," Giovanazzi said
The second reason is to take some of the offensive
pressure off of senior outside hitter Karen Chase.
"It draws people to the opposite side of where
Karen is," Giovanazzi said, "Against Wisconsin there
were always two people on Karen, and I don't care
how good you are, you can't hit high numbers when
you are always in against two people."
FROM THE ScOREBOOK: Against Iowa, Melka
recorded a career high in set assists with 41, Chase
had a season-high 25 kills, and senior middle blocker
Linsey Ebert registered a career-high 12 digs.
The home attendance against Wisconsin was 698.
The Iowa match brought out 568 fans. Last year, the
Wolverines' drew 2,346 people for their match against
The Wolverines had a .750 attack percentage in the
third-game shutout against Iowa. In the Wisconsin
match, their third game attack percentage was a
Don 't miss the chance to see
M' volleyball's foundation.:
ane Stevens used to live in Hawaii. Honolulu, Hawaii -just saying it conjurds
*up images of beaches, pineapples, sun - paradise on Earth. But by the end o
high school, she was ready for a change of pace.
So she moved to Ann Arbor. Now, Ann Arbor's an interesting city, no question
- but it's not quite paradise, unless you're a meter reader.
"It was a big adjustment," Stevens said. "The snow and the weather were a big
novelty at first, but that stuff has kinda worn off over the years"
She's made the adjustment well enough, though, to earn a spot as the Michigan
volleyball team's captain in her final season. But Stevens is just one of five seniors
on the team - a group of five that includes two from California, one from Illinois
and one from Michigan. Michigan coach Greg Giovanazzi says they "embody
everything I've wanted to make this program into."
Karen Chase, Michigan's top outside hitter and a threat to break the school
record for career kills, is one of the California girls - "a really big recruit,"
Giovanazzi says. Chereena Tennis is the other West Coast representative. She was-
n't recruited by Michigan, but walked into the volleyball office on a campus visit
and told the coach she was "a pretty good player." She's now one of the
Wolverines' most experienced players. Jeanine Szczesniak is from Illinois, and her
talent caught Giovanazzi's eye when he was scouting someone else; Linsey Ebert,
"a pretty dominant player in the Big Ten," is from Fowlerville, Mich.
All five began and will end their college careers under Giovanazzi. And, if the
current pattern holds, all five will someday be remembered asa huge part of the
foundation of Michigan volleyball.
A little history: Between 1986 and 1990, the Michigan volleyball team finishe.
10th in the Big Ten four times. The only time it didn't finish 10th, it finished ninth,
But in the past seven years, Michigan's volleyball program has come a long way.
It hasn't come all the way, just yet, but it's getting there. Shortly after Giovanazzi
took over in 1992, the Wolverines progressed to the middle of the Big Ten. Last
year, they moved into the top half of the conference, with the school's best-ever
league finish (third place).
While the talent-rich Big Ten stifled the Wolverines in years past, last year
looked to be something of a turning point - Michigan made the NCAA tourna-
ment for the first time ever. This year, then, held all kinds of promise. With 14 let-
terwinners returning and a solid group of five incoming freshmen, the Wolverines
entered the season with high hopes. And now, they're finding out just how hard itsis
to remain a fixture among the elite. With a 3-7 Big Ten record (11-9 overall),
Michigan's 1997 success hasn't exactly translated into more of the same in 1998. A
steady finish could still result in a tourney berth, but a couple ill-timed losses
would eliminate Michigan from postseason play.
Nevertheless, the seniors on this year's team can rest assured that their place in
Michigan volleyball history is secure. This group - which includes two fifth-year
players - has experienced ups, such as last year's NCAA tourney berth, and
downs, such as the 8-23 1994 campaign. "No one ever wanted to feel that way
again," Stevens says of that season.
But over time, the Michigan program has made steady progress. And
Giovanazzi's resume suggests good things. He played four years for UCLA, and
was an assistant within that school's program for 10 years. He's coached extensive-
ly at the international level, most recently in the 1996 Olympics. And he's helped
bring Michigan a long way. He calls the forward progress "immensely gratifying."
"It's really because of these kids," Giovanazzi says. "Between this group and last
year's seniors, we've made great strides."
The next big step in the progression will likely be taken without the current
seniors. Stevens, Chase, Tennis, Szczesniak and Ebert won't win the Big Ten in their
final season. Their final year might not end on the high note they would have liked.
But that doesn't diminish the impact they've had on the program. In a few years,
after Michigan has broken into the upper echelon -just watch, it will happen
they'll be able to look back and see how their years shaped the direction of the pro-
gram: For now, though, their senior season goes on. Cozy Cliff Keen Arena was
host to two matches this past weekend - Michigan earned a split - but just two
more homestands remain. Next Friday and Saturday, matches against Indiana and
Northwestern will mark the second-to-last home weekend in the careers of the five
Don't wait until the very last chance to see them play. Go to Cliff Keen next
weekend and watch. Win or lose, you won't regret it. The action is fast and non-
stop; the players are passionate and excitable. The regulars who do attend volleyball
matches there know that with its pep band and tight quarters, Cliff Keen is like a'
miniature version of Yost Ice Arena. But remember: Yost didn't always sell out,
either. Just a few years ago, Red Berenson couldn't give seats away.
So don't miss your chance. In a couple years, when the team is terrific, you can
say you were there to help lay the foundation -just like the five seniors.
-Jim Rose can be reached via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue field hockey splits crucial weekend
Mzichigan must win its remaining two games to clinch share of Big Ten championship
By Jason Emott
Daily Sports Writer
The stage is set.
Michigan field hockey's split this weekend at
Noy 7 Penn State and No. 18 Ohio State has left
the team in an enticing position - it controls its
own destiny in its quest to win a second straight
-B g Ten championship.
If the Wolverines win out the remainder of
eir conference schedule this weekend, they will
in at least a share of the Big Ten crown.
The Nittany Lions and the No. 10 Wolverines
-sit atop the conference with identical 6-2 records.
Michigan will play its final two games this season
~at home on Friday and Sunday against
Northwestern and Iowa.
"It was a long road trip and very difficult,"
"Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. "We're sat-
isfied with the split, but it's not the optimal situa-
n. Obviously, our team was very disappointed in
sing to Penn State for the second time this sea-
On Friday, Michigan traveled to Happy Valley
to take on the Nittany Lions in a critical matchup
between the conference's two best teams. The
Wolverines were hoping to avenge their only con-
ference loss of the season, which came at the
hands of Penn State on Oct. 11.
Things didn't quite go as planned for the
Wolverines, as they fell 2-0 to Penn State. The
teams battled through an intense first half only to
find themselves in a scoreless tie at halftime.j
The Nittany Lions came out gunning in the sec-
ond half, however, and wasted no time in putting
their first goal on the board less than 10 minutes
into the second session.
Then, with just more than five minutes remain-
ing in the contest, Penn State scored to seal the
victory. The story of the game was the stingy Penn
State defense, which allowed just seven Michigan
shots on goal.
"They were a little quicker than us and just
played better," Pankratz said.
Penn State fired 18 shots on goal, and
Michigan sophomore goalie Kati Oakes made six
saves in the losing effort.
Yesterday, Michigan desperately needed a win
against Ohio State to stay in contention for its sec-
ond consecutive conference title.
"Ohio State was a very big game for us,"
The Wolverines arrived in Columbus a more
intense, focused team, and jumped out to an early
2-0 lead on the Buckeyes with freshman Jessie
Veith's seventh goal of the season and another
from sophomore Courtney Reid.
That was all the Wolverines needed - after
giving up a goal to the Buckeyes late in the first
half, Michigan shut down Ohio State the rest of
the way and won 3-1, with the insurance goal com-
ing from sophomore Jocelyn Laface midway
through the second half.
The Wolverines dominated the Buckeyes, out-
shooting them 20-6, and Oakes had to make just
two saves during the game.
"I was very proud of our team. They got
focused very quickly after a tough loss at Penn
State, and came out and played great against a
very good Ohio State team," Pankratz said.
With the victory, Michigan jumped back into a
first-place tie with Penn State, and more impor-
tantly, kept alive the opportunity to win the Big
Ten championship this weekend.
Michigan must win its two remaining games to
clinch a share of its second consecutive Big Ten
"That's the plan. Play well this weekend and
win the Big Ten championship," Pankratz said.
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