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September 08, 2005 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-08

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16A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 2005

After slow start, Spikers
have a lot of work to do

By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer

Everyone needs to start somewhere. And
after opening its season with three consecu-
tive losses, "somewhere" happens to be at the
bottom of the pack for the Michigan volley-
ball team. But where you start is not always an
indication of where you are going.
After losing three key seniors to gradua-
tion, coach Mark Rosen and his team are not
surprised to be in their current position. They
believe that it is just a matter of time before
this new group of Wolverines is able to find
their rhythm.
"We have a lot of freshnen and returning
sophomores," senior Candace Gay said. "So
we are a pretty young team, and we are still
adjusting and gelling as a team. Everyone just
has to learn to play with each other, and every
year it's a different team. So now we just have
to learn how each other plays and adjust to
everyone's playing style and personality."
The team's new setter, redshirt freshman
Mara Martin, is still getting used to playing
with the starting rotation and being in the
spotlight. Every offensive play is run through
her, and in just a matter of time, Martin and
the rest of the front court will get in sync and
be able to put together consistent offensive
attacks. Rosen is hoping to speed up Martin's
learning curve by working on sets in practice
and making sure the team has their timing
come game day.
"It's hard when she hasn't set before and she
has to connect with the hitters right away,"
freshman Kerry Hance said. "She is doing
so well, and everyone just has to get to know

each other on the court. In practice, we are just
practicing passing and serving and everything
and all of the techniques that will get us better
and ready for games."
Both Mastin and Hance are looked upon to
contribute on a daily basis, despite their unfa-
miliarity with the speed of college volleyball.
Having two freshmen in the limelight creates a
large problem for the Wolverines - the team's
immaturity and lack of experience has been a
little too noticeable during their early season
matchups. The Wolverines have often found
themselves struggling and allowing teams to
close them out in the final points of a game.
"I think our areas of deficiency right now
have been consistency in both offense and
defense but probably more offensively," Rosen
said. "Our ball control hasn't been consistent,
and we have had real breakdowns here and
there with out passing, and those are areas
we're going to focus a lot on and try to get bet-
ter. I think, as we increase our offensive effi-
ciency, we will be better."
Another difficulty the Wolverines encoun-
tered in their match against Nebraska was
their inability to break the Cornhuskers'
rhythm. Michigan allowed them to go on early
runs in all three games, giving Nebraska a
large enough lead that the Wolverines couldn't
overcome. In addition, Michigan was unable
to break a 12-4 run by the Cornhuskers that
closed out the first game of the series.
"We are a young team, and I think that really
showed in the matches," sophomore Katie Bru-
zdzinski said. "We would let teams get runs. I
think that as we get more experienced together,
it will help us eliminate teams from getting on
those runs and closing us out of games."

Sophomore Katie Bruzdzinski was named one of Michigan's three captains for this season.

Brannen will join Blue coaching staff

By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer

Semi-finalist at the 2005 World
Track and Field Championships.
Eleven-time All-American in track
and cross country. Four-time Nation-
al Champion in both indoor and out-
door track.
That is how Nate Brannen's resume
reads. So it's safe to say that Michi-
gan men's cross country coach Ron
Warhurst had no trouble deciding
whether to extend Brannen an invita-
tion to join his coaching staff when
the track star graduated last year.
Luckily for the Wolverines, Brannen
accepted Warhurst's invite.
"Coaching has always been some-
thing that I wanted to do," Brannen

said. "I want to try and climb up the
ranks in the coaching world once I'm
done competing."
Losing arguably the most prolific
runner in school history would seem
to precipitate a drop-off in the team's
performance. But Michigan is hop-
ing the addition of Brannen the coach
will help offset the loss of Brannen
the runner.
"I think he has an interest (in
coaching)," Warhurst said. "He's got
the respect, and he's got-the creden-
tials as an international runner. He
can help the younger guys through
tough times, like when they get
injured, because he's been through
it all."
Not only was Brannen the Wolver-
ines' best runner last year, but he was

also the captain of the team. Now he
is helping in the search for this year's
"Last year, I talked to (senior
Andrew Bauer) and kind of put the
idea in his head that he is the best
runner that we have," Brannen said.
"I talked to (sophomore Mike Woods)
over the summer and sent him a few
e-mails and put it out there that he is
one of the leaders on this team."
Even though the team has only
been practicing for a week, a new
dynamic appears to have developed.
"(Brannen) was usually the leader
in the workouts, but now everybody
takes a turn up frpnt, and we've been
really working together well," Bauer
said. "He's still there to motivate us
even though he isn't participating in

al the workouts
Because Brannen is just one year
removed from being a member on the
cross country team, he is still close
to many of the returning runners
and can better address their needs
throughout the season.
"He's been going into Ron's office
and sitting down with him and really
planning out workouts for the sea-
son," Bauer said. "(He's) been really
focusing on how to help us in the
long term, rather than just being our
best now."
Brannen will also continue to com-
pete internationally.
"He's always been a good leader,
and, being an assistant coach (now),
he's really going to be able to contrib-
ute that much more in terms of lead-
ership and training," Woods said.
Brannen's impact as a coach will
not be clear until the NCAA Cham-
pionships in November where the
Michigan cross country team will
look to improve on its 26th place
showing last season.

Nate Brannen hung up his Michigan running shoes but will stay as an assistant coach.

Ii U

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