The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 6, 2005 - 13A
Spikers happy to be home
By Lindsey Ungar
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan's record is the tale of two
seasons: 4-5 on the road, 4-0 at home.
A tough split this past weekend on
the road, including a win against Iowa
and a loss to No. 9 Minnesota, sums
up the volleyball team's season thus
far - inconsistency on the road but
strong play in Ann Arbor.
Michigan (2-2 Big Ten, 8-5 overall)
hasn't played at home since Sept.. 13, and
it's no secret that coach Mark Rosen and
his team are just happy to play in Cliff
Keen Arena again this Friday against
Illinois and Purdue on Saturday.
"It means everything," Rosen said.
"We love playing no matter where we
play, and obviously we've played in
some pretty great places, but it's just
so nice to be home."
Because of the physical and mental
toll a long road trip takes on the team,
the Wolverines are eager to return to
the atmosphere at Cliff Keen.
"It's so great to have fans cheer-
ing with you instead of against you,"
junior Erin Cobler said. "We're so
excited to be home."
Although the team approaches every
game the same, whether home or away,
it's just easier to play in a comfortable
Said Rosen: "I don't think we
approach it any differently. I don't
look at it and say, 'Gosh, our team
can't play on the road.' We never talk
about those things, but deep down, in
general, people are going to play bet-
ter at home."
But even though Michigan returns
home this weekend, the Wolverines
won't be met by easy competition.
Illinois has beaten Michigan six of
the last 10 times the two teams have
met. And while Michigan has had the
upper hand on No. 22 Purdue recently,
winning four straight, the Wolverines
can't afford to overlook a team that
swept Northwestern 3-0 last weekend.
"From a competitive standpoint, this
weekend is obviously a big weekend for
us," Rosen said. "These are two teams
that are like us - striving to move up
and into that upper echelon of the con-
But the team isn't concentrating on
the competition. Instead, the Wolver-
ines are looking to improve their own
play on the court.
"We don't like to focus as much on the
opponent because it's usually the mis-
takes in our game that make the differ-
ence," sophomore Lyndsay Miller said.
And the difference the Wolverines
are emphasizing is the bottom line
"We always want to get wins,"
Cobler said. "It's not enough anymore
to play good against good teams,"
Illinois (1-3, 10-5) is one of those
good teams, but has recently suffered
the opposite woes of the Wolverines.
After stunning No. 18 Ohio State 3-2
in Columbus, the Illini lost two con-
secutive home games to Northwestern
and No. 8 Wisconsin. Michigan hopes
to extend that losing streak for the Illi-
ni with a big home win.
Since sophomore Katie Bruzdzinski
is still not at 100 percent after sprain-
ing her ankle against Iowa, the offense
might not be at full strength for the
games. She played through injury on
Saturday to earn five kills for the Wol-
verines. This season, Bruzdzinski had
been averaging 14 kills a match.
"Hopefully by Friday she won't
be inhibited by it," Rosen said. "It
wasn't a major sprain, but it's some-
thing that's going to be kind of nag-
ging. Even if it takes 10 percent off
her game, it limits what she can do.
We're going to get her back as soon
as possible but, at the same time, give
her the time to heal."
With the possibility of Bruzdzinski
out of the lineup, the Wolverines hope
to use their homecourt advantage to
rack up wins this weekend before fac-
ing two top-25 teams - No. 4 Penn
State and Ohio State - on the road
"The matches you have at home are
important," Rosen said. "I think our
girls understand how important it is, and
they're all excited about it. At the same
time, we know it's a big task in front of
us to play back-to-back nights and make
sure we take care of both of them."
Sophomore Lyndsay Miller is glad to back In Ann Arbor after a tough road trip to Iowa and Minnesota.
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