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October 04, 1999 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-04

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41 - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 4, 1999

.1 - - I - I - 1, .117 7 '', 1 - 1, 7T., I I- - i

Continued from Page 1B
Two sideouts later, middle blocker
Joanna Fielder hit the ball into the far-
left corner to one of many long rallies.
The Wolverines finished off the fourth
game with an I1-0 run. Of the nine
points in the run, only two came from
Purdue attack errors as the Wolverines'
forced the fifth game, 15-7.
The fifth game was close, but the
Wolverine never had the lead even
though they were never more than three
points down at once. Sarah Behnke's
three kills in a row forced a tie at the
tenth and eleventh points.
Then the bottom fell out. The
Wolverines missed a serve. They.com-
mitted a net violation. And a quick
Boilermaker sideout ended the
Wolverines' final comeback attempt..
"The reality of the match was that
they out-executed us," Rosen said.
"They executed better in the long haul
and also in critical points. We missed
our opportunities. They made theirs."
A new rotation impacted Michigan's
execution. Outside hitter Alija Pittenger
saw only backcourt rotation, while
recovering from a twisted ankle.
Behnke replaced Pittenger at outside
hitter but had only seen limited action
this' season because of sickness. She
responded with 22 kills against Purdue.

"I thought the timing (of Behnke's
comeback) was pretty good," Rosen
said. "She's been coming on the last
couple of weeks."
Pittenger sat out the sweep by No. 20
Wisconsin on Friday. Michigan kept the
score tied at nine all in the first game,
but then a Badger ace began a 6-0 run
that finished the game, 15-9.
In the fourth game, Michigan only
managed four points. After Wisconsin
put together a five-point run to take the
lead 7-4, the Wolverines hit nine kills.
But the Badgers still managed to score
four unanswered points on the run.
Wisconsin put together game two's win-
ning run off four Michigan attack errors.
"When you execute the skills the
game becomes fun," Wisconsin volley-
ball coach Pete Waite said. "If you
don't, it's not much fun."
The Wolverines began the third game
with a 13-7 lead off a 6-0 run, but
couldn't execute for two sideouts in a
row until Wisconsin had pulled them-
selves up to 10. Not even Kacor's team-
high 14 kills saved the game for the
Wolverines as Wisconsin's home crowd
stood and yelled, "point Wisconsin" as
the Badgers pulled out a 16-14 game-
three win for the sweep.
"It felt like we had complete control,
but the momentum kept rolling and
rolling, and before you knew it the
match was lost," Kacor said.

dropped matches against

Times were tough in West Lafayette this weekend for the Wolverines, who
conference foes Wisconsin and Purdue.

It's the pits for M' without str
Pittenger's absence disrupts rhythm, has Blue sagging in Big Ten


77, 77

k .

'M'gets mad,
but not even.
during sweep
By Jon Zemke
Daily Sports Writer
WEST LAFAYETTE - Nicole Kacor was livid. Her
brief burst of expletives summed up the weekend for
"I was really frustrated with myself, the team ai
being kicked around," Kacor said. "I was trying to turn
that frustration over into being successful for the team,
and I don't think I did that good of a job."
Kacor was a little too hard on herself.
Kacor led the team in kills against Wisconsin with 14
and had 16 against Purdue. She spent a lot of the game
parallel to the floor against the Boilermakers with a
career-high 26 digs. Kacor also aced four serves on
Purdue's court.
But in the second and third games against Purdue,
Kacor was uneasy. Her attack was off. She hit six of her
spikes out of bounds.
After Michigan had won the first game, the
Wolverines suddenly found themselves on the defen-
sive, behind 2-1. Michigan coach Mark Rosen was
calling numerous timeouts to try and calm his team
"Those are the kind of situations Nicole thrives on,"
Michigan volleyball coach Mark Rosen said. "She likes
to be in the pressure situation. She likes to compete.
That's when she shows her true colors from an aggres-
sive standpoint."
Then in the fourth game Kacor tried a different
approach. She walked onto the court smiling. The team
then regained its poise. They were relaxed.
Kacor took time on her attacks instead of trying to
rush them. She committed only one more attack error,
scored three points off four kills and had an ace to start*
Michigan's 11-0, Game 4 winning run.
In the fifth game with the score tied at three apiece,
Wisconsin took out their aggression on Kacor. Off a high
set, the Badger's Aneska Arosarena smacked a spike-
across the court off Kacor's chin, turning her head 4
Kacor came right back, slamming the ball down in
front of the Badgers for the kill to tie the game, 4-4.
"I was trying to be leader and get the team pumped,"
Kacor said. "She hit me pretty hard, but I was trying to
get the team up to win."
Three points later with Michigan down three, Rosen
called another time out. Kacor regained a little momen-
tum for Michigan with another kill making it 5-7.
After the teams switched sides of the court at the
game half, Kacor did all the talking in the huddle
before play resumed. She served the second of the
next two points that brought Michigan within one
again, 8-7.
But Kacor's heroics weren't enough to save Michigan.
The Wolverines lost the fifth game and the match, 15-12.
"When the system breaks down like that, typically it'z
a mistake of passion," Rosen said. "People trying to do
to much to help the team.
"The outside hitter will step in and try to hit the per
fect shot to help the team and then hit the ball out of
bounds. Someone will try to clear a ball so it won't hit
the ground instead of letting (setter) Shannon (Melka).
run the offense.
"The system starts to break down on itself because,
everyone is trying to do the right thing, but unfortunate-
ly it turns into the wrong thing."

By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Writer
ago, the Michigan volleyball team
basked in the euphoria of a comeback
win over rival Ohio State.
Since then, the Wolverines have been
beset by setbacks - a pummeling by
No. 2 Penn State, outside hitter Alija
Pittenger's ankle sprain, and losses to
Wisconsin and Purdue.
Pittenger sprained her ankle during
Tiesday's practice and missed Friday's
sweep against Wisconsin. In Saturday's
loss'to Purdue, the junior would only
plty a limited role.
So while Wisconsin's Jenny
Maastricht and Allyson Ross were
describing their victories as "great,"
"fui," and "good wins," the Wolverines
were left to wonder what could have
, What could have happened in the
tough Big Ten, the conference with four
of the nation's top 25 teams? What
could have been of the road trip that
was to springboard the team through
the rest of its tough schedule?
One thing is for sure, their Big Ten
title dreams have been severely dam-
aged. Pittenger's injury came in the
heart of a five-match, eight-day trip and

"That one person made that big ofa
difference "
- Michigan coach Mark Rosen,
on the injury to outside hitter Alija Pittenger


with the injury comes the chance that
the Wolverines will not finish in the top
three of the Big Ten.
Michigan now finds itself on its first
losing streak of the season, and in the
three matches, Michigan has won only
two out of II games. Now it must
regroup for a winnable match at Notre
Dame. But with an injured Pittenger,
the team can ill afford to look past the
Fighting Irish.
"I don't think we are a good enough
defensive team yet," Michigan coach
Mark Rosen said. "She masks our
defensive inefficiencies because she
raises the level. That one person made
that big of a difference."
Though Pittenger's replacement,
Sarah Behnke, had 22 kills against
Purdue, it was obvious that the
Boilermakers and Badgers made a
point to exploit the Wolverines'"defen-
sive inefficiencies."
Rosen tried shuffling in new lineups
throughout the weekend in hopes of

blending Behnke's offensive skills with
Pittenger, Maggie Cooper, and Annie
Maxwell's defensive talents.
"She is such a huge defensive part for
us," Rosen said. "We were really better
the three rotations she was on the floor
(for). When she's on the floor playing
back row, she's a great defensive play-
And while the cat is away, the mice
will play.
"We knew that she was one of their
top hitters," Wisconsin coach Pete
Waite said. "And when you hear that
(she wouldn't be playing) right before a
game, it's kind of an uplifting thing for
your team. They had to insert some-
body else, and you never know how that
person will play. I'm sure it would have
made a difference because she's tough."
For now, all the Wolverines can do is
continue to battle and hope that
Pittenger gets healthy.
"There's never a good time to get
injured," Pittenger said.

The Michigan volleyball team is hurting without outside hit-
ter Alija Pittenger, evident in losses to Wisconsin and Purdue
this weekend.

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