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December 02, 2002 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-02

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - December 2, 2002 - 7B

Spikers beat Wildcats in season finale

By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer
There was only one thing that could make
senior Katrina Lehman feel better than get-
ting a win in her last match at Cliff Keen
Arena - an NCAA Tournament berth.
Lehman and the Michigan women's vol-
leyball team got it last night, landing an
improbable spot in the tournament after
splitting its last two matches last weekend.
After dropping their match with No. 15
Wisconsin on Friday, the Wolverines need-
ed a win Saturday to stay alive. They used a
tried and true formula - stay away from
the other team's star - to perfection in
defeating Northwestern and middle blocker
Erika Lange 3-1 on senior night. Lehman
and sophomore Carrie Ritchie gave the
1,023 fans at Cliff Keen Arena something
to cheer about.
"I was really happy that our last match
here we were able to pull off a win,"
Lehman said.
Michigan's game plan hinged on match-
ing Lehman up with Lange, one of the Big
Ten's best blockers. Lange had just one and
a half blocks on the night, and Michigan
out-blocked the Wildcats 15-8. Revenge
was also on the Wolverines' minds, since
the team lost 3-1 to the Wildcats earlier in
the season.
Michigan jumped out to a quick 13-5 lead

in the first game, as Northwestern struggled
to find its rhythm. Michigan's Ritchie
proved to be the hot server, using her jump
serve to attack Northwestern's back line
Ritchie rolled off five straight points, tar-
geting the Wildcats' defensive specialist.
"She seemed to get in a little bit of trou-
ble, so we tried to go after it," Michigan
coach Mark Rosen said.
Bad passing by the Wildcats led to easy
points for the Wolverines, and Michigan
exposed the soft middle defense of North-
western to take the first game 30-23.
The second game proved to be a reversal
of fortunes, as Michigan's offense struggled
early. Northwestern found some success
defensively, finally getting some blocks and
building a 17-13 lead. Michigan fought back
behind Ritchie's serving once again, but
made crucial mistakes down the stretch to
drop the game 30-27.
Michigan started to attack the middle
front of the Northwestern defense early in
game three, and it paid off. The Wolverines
got Lange to respect the middle, then used
fakes to the middle to attack the outside.
This created one-on-one opportunities out-
side, and resulted in Michigan getting some
crucial points.
Even setter Lisa Gamalski got into the act,
out-jumping Lange for an important ball and
winning the point.

In the deciding game, Michigan took con-
trol early and played with the intensity need-
ed to save its season. Lehman came up with
some huge points up the middle against
Lange and capped a big night by knocking a
kill right through Lange for a 23-17 lead that
the Wolverines would not relinquish.
The star of the night, though, was Ritchie
who had crucial kills in addition to her
almost untouchable serving. The team
seemed to pick it up whenever Ritchie was
starting things off.
"I think that for anybody who gets to
serve and gets an ace, it's a big momentum
builder," Ritchie said. "It's a good rallying
point for any team."
Ritchie served out game four to close out
the match, but the night wasn't over yet.
Lehman was honored after the game for
her four years as a starter, and there weren't
many dry eyes on the sideline as she spoke
about her time at Michigan. Lehman will
leave Michigan with the most blocks in the
history of the program.
"She's been such an integral part of our
offense and defense," Rosen said. "She's
definitely going to be missed."
Lehman did not feel much emotion during
the game, though.
"Actually I was really into the match
tonight," Lehman said.
"I didn't think much about this (being) my
last time ever being here."

Senior Katrina Lehman shined in her last match at Cliff Keen Arena, leading Michigan's defense in
out-blocking Northwestern 15-8. She leaves Michigan as the school's all-time blocks leader.

Blue to face Kansas
State in first round

By Albert Kim
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan volleyball team got
an early Christmas present last night
as the Wolverines were selected to
participate in the 2002 NCAA Tour-
Michigan will face Kansas State
in the first round at Ahern Field
House in Manhattan, Kan. The
Wolverines are in the East region,
and if victorious, will face the win-
ner of No. 12 Washington State and
Oral Roberts University.
It was an ecstatic and very sur-
prised team that saw its name on the
big screen during the selection show
last night.
"Yesterday after the match
(Michigan coach) Mark (Rosen)
told us we had a 10 to 15 percent
chance," junior captain Erin Moore
said. "I thought it was even lower
than that, but we got the wins we
needed to get."
Michigan got in on the strength of
one of the toughest schedules in the
country, and its Big Ten record of
10-10. It was also helped by Indiana
losing Saturday night, which created
a three-way tie for sixth place in the
In addition, Michigan coach Mark
Rosen has a good track record of
going to the postseason as a coach,
making the tournament in eight of
his 10 seasons.
Rosen has led the Wolverines to
the tournament three out of the last
four years, narrowly missing a bid
last year.
"We've come in with a mentality
that making the NCAA tournament
should be the minimum," Rosen
The Wolverines finished the 2002
regular season campaign with a 16-
14 overall record, including wins
over NCAA Tournament-bound
Michigan State, Ohio State and
Penn State.
PeThe tournament committee recog-
nized the strength of the Big Ten
and chose eight teams from the con-
ference, tying a record set in 1999
for most Big Ten teams selected.
Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern,
and Wisconsin were also selected.
"We've always felt that this is a
great conference, and it sends a
strong message that we are one of
the two best conferences in the
country," Rosen said.
Michigan has a 3-3 record in
NCAA Tournament play. The last
time Michigan was in the tourney

was in 2000, when it beat Louisville
in the first round but lost to then-
No. 2 Arizona in the second round.
For the Wolverines' lone senior
Katrina Lehman, the announcing of
the tournament draw was an intense
couple of minutes to be sure.
"My palms were sweaty, and my
heart was racing," Lehman said. "When
it came up, it was a sense of relief."
Most of the team tried to be real-
istic in gauging their chances, but in
their hearts they all seemed to
"My head was saying. that we're
not going to make it, but in my heart
I knew we were going to make it,"
Lehman said.
That belief is already carrying
over into the preparation for the
tournament. The Wolverines feel
that they can play with anybody, and
will get their chance to prove it.
"I definitely think we (deserved)
it," Moore said. "If we play our
game, we'll be fine."

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Sophomore setter Lisa Gamalski played well Saturday night and will look to keep
the Wolverines on a winning track in the NCAA Tournament.


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