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March 11, 2004 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-11

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 11, 2004


Mantilia, Ryals set
for final home.meet

Streifler' s antics keep
doubles partner loose

By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer

The beginning of the end is here for
the two graduating seniors on the
Michigan women's gymnastics team.
This Friday's meet against No. 2
Alabama at Crisler Arena will be
Michigan's last regular season meet.
"I don't think it will hit me until I'm
actually done competing (that night),"
senior Calli Ryals said.
Senior Christine Mantilia agreed
that senior night would be poignant.
"It will probably be emotional, since
this is the last time we'll all be togeth-
er," Mantilia said. "It will be a differ-
ent feeling."
Mantilia returned strong this season
after sitting out her entire junior year
while she recovered from an ACL tear
she suffered right before the 2002-
2003 winter break.
"All the work done during the first
semester was kind of blown away,"
Mantilia said of her injury. "It was
very hard."
The New Canaan, Conn., native has
had a breakout season. She competed
for just the second time in her career
on the floor exercise and vault earlier
this season. Then she set career-high

marks on those events twice - first
at the State of Michigan Classic and
again two weeks ago against West
But as usual with this close-knit
team, Mantilia didn't do it alone. The
year before Mantilia tore her ACL,
Lauren Mirkovich went through the
same recuperation process after she
injured her knee. Mirkovich knew
exactly how to help her teammate
enjoy a successful recovery.
Ryals, who avoided any serious
injuries throughout most of her career,
saw Mantilia's side of things when she
injured her ankle during warm-ups at
West Virginia and had to sit out of the
vault competition. It was the first time
in two years that Ryals had not com-
peted in the all-around competition.
Last week against UCLA, Ryals com-
peted in just two events in an effort to
keep her injury from getting worse.
"I think especially that first meet
that I was out, it may have been a little
bit of a shock to the other girls," Ryals
said. "I'm there for every meet and
they count on me to hit. I think it threw
them off a little bit, but they're strong
girls. They got back on track."
The Wolverines have had some
recent miscues on the mats - they

Senior Calli Ryals will take one step closer to ending her decorated career at Michigan
on Friday, as the Wolverines host No. 2 Alabama in their final home meet.

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
"Sometimes I'll do a little dance."
Sophomore Debra Streifler of the
Michigan women's tennis team isn't
heading to Broadway, but she and sen-
ior doubles partner Kim Plaushines are
climbing the charts nonetheless.
Streifler explained that making
Plaushines laugh with a little dance rou-
tine is just one of the ways the duo stays
relaxed on the court. The doubles tan-
dem has helped keep Michigan unde-
feated with a 7-0 record of their own.
"(Streifler and Plaushines) are really
coming together as a team," assistant
coach Katy Propstra said. "They're
starting to know what the other is going
to do without even talking about it."
The coach constantly referred to the
duo's chemistry, which may be its most
notable strength.
The girls themselves are aware of this
"chemistry" as well.
"(Streifler) and I complement each
other's games very well," Plaushines
said. "A good think about (Streifler) is
that she gets me fired up. She has a
great energy on the court and that helps
me bring out my energy."

have lost three straight meets, putting
up three of their lowest overall scores
since the end of January. Mantilia
shared her thoughts on how the team
can improve.
"Our problem is we've been train-
ing really well, but once we get to the
meet, we're not exactly where we
were in training," Mantilia said. "We
need to put it together in the meet just
like we've been putting it together in
the gym."
But both seniors agreed on their
favorite memory at Michigan.
"One of my best memories is Big

Tens last year," Ryals said. "We strug-
gled all year with injuries and we had
one of our best meets ever, and it felt
so good."
Before the month is out, these sen-
iors might be able to make another one
of those Big Ten memories. But for
now Ryals said they are ready to take
on Alabama.
"It's gotten to the point where it's
like, 'What do we have to lose?'"
Ryals said. "You can see it in their
eyes. Everyone's real aggressive and
just going after it (in practice). I think
it's a good thing."

The girls' teamwork has certainly
brought them great success at the No. 3
doubles position, including a come-
from-behind win against Georgia Tech
earlier in the season. The duo also points
to its upset win against Notre Dame as a
good example of how to stay poised
when playing a competitive rival.
Though Streifler and Plaushines
explain that they are excited to be cur-
rently undefeated, they don't allow the
"streak" to affect their style of play.
"It's nice that we are undefeated,
but it is because we've been working
hard," Streifler said. "We go out on
the court every match wanting to beat
our opponent."
Even with all this serious tennis talk,
Streifler, the "comedian" of the duo
according to Plaushines, can't help but
chuckle about all the fun times the two
have shared as doubles partners.
Plaushines, the "serious" one, says
Streifler still makes her laugh all the
time, on and off the court.
"We have fun together," Streifler said.
"If she seems nervous, I'll make make
her laugh and not think about tennis,
and then she will usually ace the girl."
Known for saying the "most random
things," Streifler encourages her partner
during heated moments in a match with
some funny nicknames for their shots.
"T-money" is one of their favorites,
which is their nickname for hitting the
"T" on a serve.
The girls' ability to have fun has
translated into great success thus far.
Propstra explained that the duo still
maintains its competitiveness and ener-
gy when game time comes.
"Hopefully, they will keep playing
well into the Big Ten schedule," Prop-
stra said. "I think they are going to build
off of their past successes and will have
lots of confidence going into these
upcoming matches'
Streifler and Plaushines will look to
extend their winning streak to eight
against the Crimson Tide in Alabama on
Continued from Page 5A
about that," Burnett said. "That's just a
foundation now of what we hope will
come in the future."
Speaking of the future, Burnett has
managed to land a stellar recruiting class
for next year that includes Becky Flip-
pin, one of the nation's top point guard
prospects, and Katie Dierdorf, daughter
of former Michigan football star Dan
"I always thought recruiting was
extremely difficult," Burnett said. "At
Michigan, we're finding doors are very
open. Now it's our job to get the name
on the dotted line.
"I knew in my coaching career (at
Southwest Missouri State), there was a
glass ceiling, and we could only take the
program so far. I wanted to be some-
where where the sky's the limit, and this
Michigan program is that prWgair."
It's hard to imagine a recrut not want-
ing to play at Michigan. Sit down with
Burnett for five minutes to talk basket-
ball and she'll have you ready to lace up
the shoes and sprint on to the court.
From yelling at the Crisler Arena
crowd to standing up and make noise at
critical points in the game, to discussing
the future of the Michigan program like
it should be a perennial Final Four
attendee, Burnett makes it clear that any-
thing less than a complete and total
effort from all aspects of the program is
"We don't just want our players to
outwork other teams,"Burnett said. "We
want our staff to be one of the hardest-
working staffs. We want kids to dream
of being part of the road to success."
Her first season as coach at Michigan
wasn't exactly what Burnett was hoping it
would be. It might not be easy, and it

might not be quick, but Burnett is set on
the idea that Michigan is a national cham-
pionship program just waiting to happen.
"We are the ones, now, who have to
get the recruits and win and build the
fan base," Burnett said. "But the poten-
tial is there to explode."
Chris Burke can be reached at
Continued from Page 5A
"As Daniel played well at Northwest-
ern, we looked like a different ball club"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I
think the confidence of our team was
raised to a different level when he was
playing at high level. If we build on that,
then we can continue to grow"
Starting in place of Lester Abram
against Northwestern, Harris also played
a starring role, being much more aggres-
sive. Harris has struggled in adjusting to
Big Ten play during the second half of
the conference schedule. but after his



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