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September 02, 2003 - Image 21

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The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - September 2, 2003 - 21A

Opening Spikes
Wildcats serve up repeat
performance in 'M' opener

Nichols joins golfing
elite at U.S. Amateur

By Matt Kramer
Daily Sports Writer

By Eric Aminder
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan volleyball season began the same way
it ended last year - with a 3-0 loss to Kansas State.
The Wolverines competed in the Florida State Invi-
tational this weekend, battling Kansas State, Florida
Atlantic, and Florida State.
Ready to redeem themselves after last year's first-
round NCAA Tournament loss, the Wolverines began
match play against the Wildcats last Friday night.
"Everyone was pretty fired up to play them," senior
Erin Moore said. "But once we got going the wrong
way, we couldn't turn it around because we kept think-
ing: This is what happened last year."
Returning seven of eight starters from last season,
Michigan matched the 15th-ranked Wildcats early-on
but trailed 19-15 midway through the first frame.
Then, the Wolverines began their streaky, inconsistent
play that characterized much of their performance this
weekend. Kansas State widened its lead to eight and
took the first frame 30-22. A 10-0 Wildcat run at the
mid-way point of the second frame and a 9-2 jumpstart
at the beginning of the third frame was the difference
as Michigan lost the final two frames 30-25 and 30-17.
"The girls really wanted to redeem last year,"
Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. "They were excit-
ed, and I didn't think we played well. We were very
inconsistent."
But the Wolverines bounced back on Saturday
against Florida Atlantic, a team they have never played.

After splitting the first two frames 30-26 and 30-28,
Michigan took 60 of the next 90 points to win the
match 3-1. Led by Moore's match-high 18 kills and
junior Jennifer Gandolph's 15 kills and 14 digs, the
Wolverines finished the match with a .407 attack per-
centage - their highest since a .512 percentage
against Eastern Michigan in 2001.
"I think we were just kind of pissed that we got beat-
en up by K-State" Moore said about what motivated
the team to their first win of the year.
Redshirt freshmen Erin Cobler, subbing for injured
four-year-starter Nicole Paquette, played well on
defense, netting eight blocks.
"It is definitely big shoes to fill," Cobler said. "I
learned a lot from Nicole last year and she would
always give me pointers and reminders while I was on
the sideline."
Playing without the floor leader, Poquette, in their
final match against the Seminoles also proved costly
for the Wolverines.
"Nicole is not only a great front row player and a
great back-row player, but also a great server,"
Rosen said. "Her absence does change what we do.
It limits us."
Poor serving and defensive play from the Wolver-
ines propelled the Seminoles to a 2-0 game lead. The
Wolverines took the third frame 30-21 behind solid
play from seniors Moore and Chantel Reedus, but the
Seminoles won the fourth frame 30-21 as the Wolver-
ines hit just .088 for the match and were out-blocked at
the net 16-6.

ALYSSA WOOD/Daily
Senior Erin Moore had a match-high 18 kills in
Michigan's game against Florida Atlantic.
"Overall I was disappointed in the way we played,"
Rosen said. "I think we had the ability to play much
better and my expectations are for us to play much bet-
ter. We are playing below our expectations."
Despite the disappointing weekend, the Wolverines
were able to play many of the younger players who
lacked big-game experience, and they were surprising-
ly optimistic during Monday morning practice.

Dave Nichols's first shot during his
practice round of this summer's U.S.
Amateur Golf Championship didn't
come off his club exactly the way he
wanted it to.
"Yeah, I almost killed a guy on the
first hole," Nichols said. "I just snap-
hooked it left, and it just missed hit-
ting his head by a few feet. I could
hardly tee it up because I was so
nervous. I just wanted to go and hit it
before anyone saw me"
But that was one of the few poor
shots Nichols hit all week. The senior
from Mesa, Ariz. shot rounds of 77
and 72 (+9) at fabled Oakmont Coun-
try Club and Pittsburgh Field Club
two weeks ago.
While Nichols didn't qualify for
the match play rounds, it was still a
more than successful week for a
golfer who had never played in a
USGA event. Nichols finished 80th
in a field of 312 golfers.
"Nothing can compare to that
week," Nichols said. "I played with
the best players in the nation. Just
getting into the tournament was an
experience of a lifetime."
Nichols almost didn't make it into
the championship field. He shot
rounds of 65-70 (135) at a qualifying
site in Arizona, but that was only
good enough to make it into a four-
way playoff for three spots in the
championship.
With two spots already gone,
Nichols was on the outside looking in
on the fourth playoff hole. After
missing his par putt, Nichols tapped
in for bogey and watched as his com-
petitor lined up his putt to win the
playoff. Not only did his competitor

miss his par putt, he also missed the
comeback putt for bogey.
Just like that, Nichols was in the
championship.
"I felt terrible to beat a guy like
that," Nichols said. "But this was for
a trip to the U.S. Amateur."
When Nichols arrived in Pennsyl-
vania for the championship, he was
like a kid in a candy store.
"Even walking in the clubhouse, I
saw pictures of Ben Hogan and Jack
Nicklaus playing the course,' Nichols
said.
"It was unbelievable. Even the
range balls were perfect."
Nichols' 80th-place finish in a
championship with 312 golfers gave
the senior loads of confidence.
"The course was absolutely ridicu-
lous. Oakmont is the toughest course
I've ever played by at least a few
shots. The 77 I shot at Oakmont was
much better than the 72 that I shot at
Pittsburgh Field Club."
His one-week experience at the
U.S. Amateur has already helped him
prepare for this year's Michigan golf
season, which starts Sept. 20-21
when the Wolverines host the North-
ern Intercollegiate.
"Playing at the Amateur in front of
thousands of people can only help me,"
Nichols said. "I don't think I'll ever feel
that kind of pressure this season."
And Nichols also knows that, for
one summer at least, he was a slightly
better golfer than his coach, Andrew
Sapp. Sapp also tried to qualify for
the U.S. Amateur at a different site,
but didn't make it into the champi-
onship field.
"Coach Sapp is such a great guy,"
Nichols said. "So I know I won't
give him a hard time about not quali-
fying."

Europe trip a hit, with or without luggage

By Jake Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan volleyball team
brought its tourist books and its A-
game to Prague, Czech Republic.
The only thing the Wolverines for-
got was some of their luggage.
After arriving in Prague groggier
than ever after a long trans-Atlantic
flight, the team was alarmed to dis-
cover that seven of the bags had not
made the trip with the team. Two
players' bags and the only two
training bags were amongst the
missing items.
"We were without tape and ice
bags," coach Mark Rosen said.
"That's stuff you definitely can not
go to the corner and buy in Europe."
Although shorthanded, the team
made some American friends a long
way from home.
"We were lucky to borrow some
medical supplies from the Pitts-
burgh team who was in Prague as
well," Rosen said. "I don't know
what we would have done if we had-
n't found them."
Losing the bags was certainly an

inconvenience, but the team mem-
bers who had their bags turned it
into a positive experience by shar-
ing what they had brought with their
teammates who had run into the
misfortune.
"Our lost bags made us reach out
and help our teammates," sopho-
more Erin Cobler said. "The trip
really showed us how to lift each
other up when one of us needs some
help."
The Wolverines tuned up for their
impending season by competing
with a number of teams around the
city of Prague.
"I thought it was a great experi-
ence," Rosen said. "We got to play a
lot of matches and got to know each
other even better than before."
Their opponents included the
Olymph Praha Juniors and teams
from Czech leagues with experi-
enced players as old as 35.
But their toughest match pitted
the Wolverines against the top-
ranked Czech team in the country.
The Wolverines put forth a
respectable effort, but lost to the
Bruno team 3-2.

"I think all the matches will help
the team because we were so far out
of our comfort zone," Cobler said.
"It will definitely help us down the
line when we have to play a tough
match on the road."
Every four years the team gets an
opportunity to take a trip like this,
and Coach Rosen was not going to
pass it up.
"It was a quite an experience trav-
eling with twenty people in such a
great city."
When the Wolverines were not
competing or practicing, they did
not hide in their hotel rooms.
Instead they saw all Prague had to
offer. The team spent some time at
the Prague Castle and the St.
Charles Bridge.
"We were watching Mission
Impossible recently which was
filmed right there," Rosen said. "I
really got a kick out of that."
The team also spent time at St.
Vitus' Cathedral, Karlstejn Castle
and ancient caves on the outskirts of
Prague.
All that was nice, but the consen-
sus favorite event of the trip was a

dinner cruise down the Vltava River.
The team was able to see Prague
and all of the sites as the sun set on
the ancient city. The players danced
the night away as a band played on
for more than three hours.
"We had won the game that day
and were sitting on the most beauti-
ful riverboat," senior captain Erin
Moore said.
"You look around and are like,
what am I doing here with my best
friends? It was almost too good to
be true."
Time will tell how the preseason
trip will affect the team in the long
run. The excursion may have
robbed the team of some valuable
practice time.
"We gave up a lot of repetition,
and it might take some time to catch
up," Rosen said. "This weekend it
seemed we were a little behind."

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Men's Golf Fall Schedule
The Michigan golf team returns four players from last year's squad, including
junior Dave Nichols. Here's how the team's schedule breaks down during first
semester.
Northern intercolleglate, U of M Golf Course
Ann Arbor, Sept. 20-21
Hoosier invitational, IU Golf Course
Bloomington, Sept. 27-28
Franklin Street Trust Invitational, UNC Finley Golf Course
Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 4-5
Alister MacKenzie Invitational, The Meadow Club
Fairfax, Calif., Oct.13-14

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