14A The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September , 1999
Volleyball hopes history won't
repeat itself as Big Ten begins
By Dena Krischer
Daily Sports Writer
Before the preseason even began,
even before last season was over,
Michigan's volleyball team hoped to
do something this year it has never
done before - win the whole thing.
Yet as invincible as it may have
been during the preseason, the
Wolverines have come to realize that,
although a Big Ten title would be
ideal, winning isn't everything -
Still, with a 1-1 start in the Big Ten,
the Wolverines have showed that yes,
:hey can compete, they can survive,
and they can intimidate.
"We have to look at the big pic-
ure," said Michigan coach Mark
(osen. "We're not going to win every
;ame, but we have to make sure we
ire competing so that we have the
apportunity to win."
The Wolverines have been making
:hanges since before the start of the
>reseason to prove to the country that
tistory - an 12-18 finish after a 8-2
start - doesn't always repeat itself.
So far this season, it has. Michigan
is 8-1 in the non-conference season.
But to the players, last year's Big Ten
season (4-16) is a thing of the past -
t his year, they will succeed.
"The Big Ten is where it's at," said
Rosen. "The reality is that in presea-
son, we do well, but in the Big Ten we
struggle. And that's just because the
Big Ten is so good."
Michigan suffered a disheartening
loss against No. 2 Penn State last
Saturday, revealing that, like all
teams, it has a weak spot. Fortunately,
Penn State is the only team that has
picked up on it.
Despite the loss, the Wolverines
have proven that they are compete-
tive, they are surviving, and, even
more so, they are intimidating.
The Wolverines stole the No. 18
spot on the USA Today/AVCA coach-
es' Top 25 after upsetting Ohio State
in five matches at their Big Ten open-
er at Cliff Keen Arena last Friday.
"If we finish within the top six,
then we'll probably be in the NCAA
Tournament," said Rosen.
If Michigan does just that, it goes
But first things first. Michigan
faces a two-week-long stretch of
physically draining games.
"These next two weeks are going to
be pretty brutal," Rosen said with a
The Wolverines leave on Thursday
to face No. 20 Wisconsin on Friday
Then, they leave Madison for West
Lafayette to face Purdue on Saturday
Then, they come home, go to class
for a day, and travel to South Bend to
face Notre Dame on Tuesday.
Then, they relax for a total of
maybe five minutes before they face
Minnesota and Iowa at h'ome the
weekend after that respectively.
And through it all, they will com-
petete, they will survive, and they will
Alija Plttenger and the Wolverines are ranked No. 18 In the USA Today
coaches' Top 25 this week.
By Ryan C. Moloney
Daily Sports Writer
At first glance, the Notre Dame invi-
tational may not seem like much in com-
parison to the Big Ten, NCAA Regional
and national meets.
And while tomorrow's meet in South
Bend won't make or break the season
for the Michigan cross country team, the
goal is always the same when the gu
goes off towin.
"This weekend is pretty important,"
senior co-captain Jay Cantin said.
"We're racing a team (Georgetown)
which has beaten us, so we've got to
prove that we're closer to them.:
Granted, the Wolverines have dipped
into triple figures in terms of training
mileage the last couple of weeks. But
that has done little to temper their goal
of running competitively in the ear
going of the season.
"It's good to run with teams like
Missouri and Georgetown at the start of
the season," senior co-captain Steve
Lawrence said. "They are definitely
within our range and it's good to work
with teams that close to us because it
brings us nearer to where we want to
The plot thickens when the ever-
important at-large bid comes into play
The two top teams in each regional me
earn an automatic berth to the national
meet while the third place finisher is
forced to await word from the NCAA.
At-large bids are largely based on the
caliber of competition faced by the
aspiring team during the season. A good
performance Friday might go a long
way towards determining the
"The Great Lakes region is one of th,
toughest in the country," Cantin said.
"We need to beat teams because if we
get third we might lose out.
"The Michigan name alone won't
Not like it used to, anyway. Last year's
Wolverines could roll at a meet like this
one without bringing their "A" game.
This year, the team can ill-afford to take
the day off.
"I don't think we're as talented as w
were in the last few years," Lawrenc
said. "Last year we didn't run our best at
the Big Ten meet and we still ended up
winning. This year has got to be differ-
Which isn't to say the Wolverines will
drop the hammer from the get-go.
Prudent, conservative pack-running is
the key on the flat and fast Notre Dame
"We're going to go out slow and b
the third mile we should be near the
front," Cantin said. "That becomes big
at the national meet."
Especially, according to Cantin,
because of the "ridiculous" strategy of
taking it out too fast - popular at the
national meet and on flat courses such as
"If you go out too fast in the first cou-
ple of miles, that's pretty much four
more miles of hardcore pain," Lawrence
said. "I can see us running in the 60s an
70s (places) nearthe beginning. Holding
off for two miles really helps a lot."
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