2B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 31, 2003
Worst to first: In just two years, volleyball now atop Big Ten
By Maggie Adams
Daily Sports Writer
"We're looking for a top-five finish
at nationals this year, which is a totally
reasonable, reachable goal," junior Tim
Roche said of the men's club volleyball
Its three practices a week seem to
have paid off this year, vaulting the
team to eighth place nationally and
first place in the Big Ten Tournament
for the first time in the team's 15-year
"Everyone was at their pinnacle at
the Big Ten Tourney," junior Duncan
Michigan's tournament title run
included victories over Indiana - their
archrival and the top-ranked team in
the country - No. 21 Purdue and No.
25 Ohio State. They also had two men
on the six-person first team All-Big
Ten Tournament roster.
This level of success is a far cry
from the Wolverines of two years ago,
when they were tied last in the nation
An improvement that massive in two
years is especially impressive since the
team handles all coaching, management
and fundraising responsibilities itself.
They attribute the enhanced play to
confidence in one another.
"We know what to expect from each
other," Hromadka said. "After three
years working with each other, we can
come from behind. Our game has come
together as we've all become friends."
Roche agreed: "The talent level is the
same, but we have a better mental level.
Now we know what it takes to win."
They cite their annual Michigan
State game as evidence of their turn-
"We used to lose every game," Hro-
madka said. "For six years, we didn't
beat them once. But for the last two
years, we've dominated them."
"We really want to erase the 'fairy
sport' label," Roche said. "Volleyball
isn't taken seriously in Michigan, but in
places like California, it's a major sport."
However, Midwest support for the
sport has been on the rise. The Big Ten
Tournament has been around for 10
years, and five Big Ten teams are cur-
rently in the top 25.
"We want more respect for Midwest
volleyball programs," Hromadka said.
"This year there was phenomenal tal-
ent, and we're hoping that helps our
region gain respect around the nation."
Said junior Scott Klier: "We also
want to let people on campus know
what we're doing. We always recruit at
Festifall, and we hope that interested
guys check out our website and seek
They also have a B-team, which they
describe as "a developmental team,"
mostly comprised of in-state students
who show interest in the sport, but
don't yet have the skill level to play for
"Most of the guys on the A-team are
juniors, so we want to make sure there
is a next generation when we graduate."
They've still got one more year,
though, and they're looking to make
the best of it.
"Next year is going to be a lot of the
same, if not better," Roche said. "We're
going to be driving all over the Mid-
west, living together in two houses on
Greenwood again, and trying to add
another Big Ten trophy next to the one
already in the trophy case."
ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Who: Jason coben Sport: Diving
Hometown: Newtown Square, Pa. Year: Junior
High School: Marple Newton
Why: coben captured Michigan's first-ever NCAA platform diving national
championship on Saturday in Texas. The junior posted a 575.80 in the
competition, good enough to tie him for the title with Auburn's caesar
Softball at Western Michigan, 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 2
Baseball vs. Central Michigan , 3 p.m.
M Tennis at Michigan State, 6 p.m.
Friday, April 4
Baseball vs. Minnesota, 3 p.m.
Softball vs. Iowa, 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 5
W Rowing vs. Michigan State and Eastern Michigan, TBA
Water Polo at Arizona State Desert Challenge, 5 p.m.
W Golf at Indiana Invitational
Baseball vs. Minnesota
M Track/Field at Yellow Jacket Invitational
W Track/Field at Yellow Jacket Invitational
Sunday, April 6
W Tennis at Indiana, 10 p.m.
Water Polo at Arizona State Desert Challenge, 10 a.m.
Baseball vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m.
W Golf at Indiana Invitational
Blast from the past
Youthful Tigers ready for
Trammell's first season
DETROIT (AP) - Alan Trammell
may attract as much sympathy as sup-
port during his first season as manag-
er of the Detroit Tigers.
One season after tying Tampa Bay
for the worst record in baseball, the
Tigers may actually have less talent on
the field for their former star short-
stop from the 1984 World Series
Detroit didn't bring back four of its
most-productive players - All-Star
Robert Fick, team MVP Randall
Simon, solid starter Mark Redman
and closer Juan Acevedo - and didn't
get much back in return. On Friday,
Damion Easley was released - even
though Detroit must pay him $14.9
million over the next two seasons.
"We had more recognizable names,
but it doesn't necessarily mean we
were more talented last year," team
president and general manager Dave
Dombrowski said. "I think we're on
the verge of having a lot of players
that people will recognize for the
years to come."
Trammell said he would be disap-
pointed if Detroit - baseball's
losingest team the past decade - had
another 100-loss season. But he
knows he doesn't have a lot to work
"We're going into it somewhat
short-handed," Trammell said. "And
we don't have all the pieces of the
puzzle in place. Does that mean you
just lay over? No."
Last season, Detroit ranked last in
the major leagues in runs, home runs,
walks, slugging percentage, on-base
percentage and were second-to-last in
hits and errors.
Detroit is going into the season
without Fick and Simon's combined
36 homers and 145 RBIs, Redman's
team-tying eight wins and Acevedo's
team-high 28 saves.
The rotation is in question because
knuckleballer Steve Sparks is the only
pitcher on the roster with at least 21
major league starts and he may not
even be in the rotation while 20-year-
old Jeremy Bonderman is making the
huge jump from Class A ball to being
a major league starter.
"What we don't have in experience
we make up for in talent, trust me,"
said starter Mike Maroth, who was 6-
10 as a rookie last year.
Dean Palmer, Dmitri Young and
Bobby Higginson all must stay
healthy and hit like they have in the
past for Detroit to score more runs.
All three are coming off injury-
Detroit also is counting on power
and pitching from first baseman Car-
los Pena, Bonderman and reliever
Franklyn German, who were acquired
from Oakland in a three-team trade
that sent ace Jeff Weaver to the New
York Yankees last season.
"We will not be embarrassed game
after game like were last year," said
Pena, who hit 19 homers in 115
games last season. "We are going to
play the game the way it's meant to be
played with all-out effort and focus.
That wasn't the case all of the time
last year, but this year it's going to be
Trammell, who coaxed former
manager Sparky Anderson to his first
spring training since retiring in 1995,
hopes to restore pride to the uniform
adorned with the old English "D" by
having former teammates Kirk Gib-
son and Lance Parrish on his staff.
The Tigers haven't had a winning sea-
son since 1993.
"First of all, we need to get these
players to expect more of themselves,"
Gibson said. "We've also told the
guys that we're going to be aggressive
and attack. I've said, 'I don't care how
you battle, just find a way.' And
believe me, we'll find a way."
Detroit Tigers manager Alan Trammell tests the new, shortened left field fence at
Comerica Park yesterday. His outfielders hope they won't be in this position much.
player to ever be cut
DETROIT (AP) - Damion Easley
became the most expensive player cut
loose in baseball history when the
Detroit Tigers released him Friday
with $14.3 million still owed on his
infielder is in the
fourth season of a
The Tigers must
AL Pennant Winner
NL Pennant Winner
World Series Champion
Jose Cruz Jr.
pay him $6.5 million this year, $6.5
million in 2004 and a $1.3 million
buyout of an $8 million team option
"It's definitely not a proud day, I
can say that," Easley said. "It's some-
what of a relief to know what my fate
was... I knew that 100 percent they
were going to let me go."
Easley was Detroit's regular second
baseman through 2001, but injuries
limited him to just 85 games last year,
when he hit .224 with eight homers
and 30 RBIs in 304 at-bats. Easley hit
.256 (10-for-39) in the spring with
three homers and five RBIs.
The record for the most money
owed to a released player was set just
last Saturday, when the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays cut Greg Vaughn, who is
guaranteed $9.25 million this year.
PUCKETT ON TRIAL: A witness testi-
fied Friday in a Minneapolis court-
room that he saw former Minnesota
Twins star Kirby Puckett drag a
woman into a men's bathroom at a
restaurant, and that she appeared terri-
fied when she came out moments
Alan Anderson, 31, was at the Red-
stone American Grill in Eden Prairie
early Sept. 6 when Puckett allegedly
forced the woman into a stall in the
bathroom and grabbed her breast
before she escaped.
"He was dragging her into the bath-
room. She was trying to resist him,"
Anderson said on the second day of
testimony in Puckett's trial.
Anderson said he saw her try to
hang on the door frame and saw the
woman's friend yell her name into the
restroom. He said he thought they
were dating, until she emerged.
"She was terrified. She was almost in
tears. She was about to break down,"
Anderson said. He said she replied "no"
when he asked her if she was all right.
"I thought this isn't right. Something
happened here," he said.
Prosecutors say the stiffest sen-
tence they would seek for Puckett is
no more than a year in jail if he's
convicted on all counts.
Dallas 43 17
Anaheim 38 26
Phoenix 30 35
Los Angels 30 37
San Jose 28 36
Golf team finishes
12th at invitational
The Michigan men's golf team fin-
ished in 12th place with a team total
of 308 at the Johnny Owens Invita-
tional this weekend in Lexington, Ky.
Leading the Wolverines were Dave
Nichols and Mark McIntosh, tying for
22nd with a total of 231. Scott Carl-
ton finished with a total of 237, which
tied him for 46th place.
Michigan will not play the next two
weeks before playing in the Kepler
Invitational in Columbus.
Crew hangs tough
with Ivy Leaguers
The Michigan crew team had its
first full-length regatta of the season
last weekend in Princeton, N.J.
The Wolverines first varsity eight
finished in a time of 6:19.65, behind
Princeton (6:18.0) but ahead of
Brown (6:20.63). The second varsity
eight finished behind both Princeton
and Brown with a time of 6:31.57.
Michigan also raced a first varsity
four and a novice eight, which fin-
ished in second and third place,
Michigan will return home next
Saturday to host Eastern Michigan
and Michigan State.
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Rangers fight off the
Ang s, rally monkey
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - With
Game 7 winner John Lackey on the
mound, ThunderStix in the stands and
the Rally Monkey on the scoreboard,
the Anaheim Angels started this season
the same way they began last year -
with a thud.
Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and
Michael Young homered, making man-
ager Buck Showalter a winner in his
Texas debut as the Rangers beat the
World Series champion Angels 6-3 last
night in the major league opener.
Lackey was hit hard as the Angels
dropped their fourth straight opener.
runs on eight hits in five innings. In his
last outing, the 24-year-old right-hander
became the first rookie to win the sev-
enth game of a World Series in 93 years
when he gave up one run in five innings
of the Angels' 4-1 victory over San
Francisco on Oct. 27.
Ismael Valdes made his first start in
an opener and got the win against his
former teammates, allowing three runs
on seven hits in five innings.
Ugueth Urbina, signed as a free
agent over the winter, pitched the ninth
for the save. He had 40 last season for
Boston last year.