The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 31, 2005 - 3B
By Dan Ketchel
Daily Sports Writer
It wasn't the travel, the unwelcoming crowds
or the formidable opponents that left the Michi-
gan volleyball team winless on its weekend road-
trip. Momentum is what did the Wolverines in,
playing two tough away games - Friday night
at No. 16 Purdue losing 3-0 and Saturday night at
Illinois losing 3-1.
Down two games to one against the Illini, the
Wolverines fell behind 13-10. Three consecutive
points capped off by redshirt junior Erin Cobler's
service ace tied the score at 13 and had Illinois
reeling, leading to a timeout. Coming out of the
break, a quick Michigan kill gave it the lead, and
the team was poised to get back into the match.
But, just as the Wolverines were getting ready to
serve up the next ball, whistles blew and the play
was stopped. After convening about the previous
play, the referees agreed to overturn the previous
call, instead giving Illinois the 14-13 lead. The
Illini seized their opportunity and attacked force-
fully, taking the following three points and never
allowing Michigan back into the match.
"We have a very similar team as (Illinois),"
coach Mark Rosen said. "They played better than
we did tonight, and last time we played them at
our place, we played better than they did. It just
goes back and forth that way."
Michigan (4-8 Big Ten, 10-11 overall) fell
behind early in the first game, 15-11, and the Wol-
verines seemed as if they would be dominated
throughout just as they had the previous evening.
But the Wolverines used what was left in their
tanks and manufactured a 7-2 streak lead by kills
from sophomores Katie Bruzdzinski and Lynd-
say Miller. With a slight lead of 18-17, Michigan
turned and didn't look back, winning game one
Game two saw the Wolverines getting manhan-
dled - they quickly fell behind 15-5 and couldn't
recover, eventually losing 30-15. The match's ener-
gy continued in favor of Illinois thanks to a rowdy
crowd at Huff Hall in Champaign. The Illini (4-
8, 13-10) all but sealed the deal, squeaking out a
game-three victory 30-24, heavily contested by a
desperate Michigan squad.
"Right now our team is just searching for
answers," Cobler said. "We're searching for what
we need to do to put it together and come out with
a win. The past two matchups we just haven't had
everything there at once, and so when one thing's
going well other things are struggling. It's just a
frustrating time and a challenging time, but we're
going to work through it."
The Wolverines dropped below .500 for the
first time since the beginning of September,
He's got that nervous
feeling, now its gone
M ichigan should have lost this game. as if it wouldn't be able to. Hart missed three
Or at least that's what I was think- games early in the year and Michigan lost two of
ing for pretty much the whole game. them - although the Wolverines did manage to
There's a spooky feeling I get before a Michigan beat Eastern Michigan without Hart.
loss. Because it's not just one thing And because Northwestern had
that goes wrong - when Michigan given up just five sacks all year, I fig-
loses, it seems like everything goes ured Michigan would need Woodley to
wrong. provide some much-needed pressure on
Call me Ichabod Crane, but when Basanez.
things are amiss, I go looking for the My stomach tied itself in knots when
headless horseman. When mysteri- Northwestern marched down the field
ous injuries plague the team, Henne on its first drive. Basanez sat in the
underperforms and fluke plays hurt pocket all day, and it took the Wildcats
Michigan drives, the pessimist in me just four plays to go 48 yards. Before
naturally starts thinking that Michi- Northwestern running back Tyrell
gan football is just haunted. SIR IAN Sutton fumbled on the fifth play, I was
This year's loss to Notre Dame is HERBERT figuring that Michigan was done for.
a perfect example: Mike Hart was The SportsMonday Speaking of the first Northwestern
out. Tim Massaquoi was out. Jake Column drive. How about punter and kickoff
Long was out too, but that wasn't specialist Ross Ryan's first kick of the
the worst news for the offensive line - backup game? That kick, which was really short anyway,
right tackle Mike Kolodziej, who was filling in for shot out of bounds, giving Northwestern the ball on
Long, was out as well with a strange, unexplain- the 35-yard line. If you're curious about what I mean
able illness. Replays went against Michigan, a by fluke plays, this is it. Ryan, who has been superb
tipped pass was caught for a Notre Dame touch- at kickoffs all year long, somehow manages to boot
down and the Wolverines, of course, ended up on this one short and right. It's not like Michigan really
the short end of a 17-10 game. But most of us knew needed to help the Northwestern offense, which
- or felt - long before the final seconds ticked was averaging almost 600 yards per game in total
off the clock that Notre Dame had an edge. offense. So when a stupid mistake gave the Wildcats
This week's game had that same feeling. an extra hand, I was sure Michigan was done.
At the beginning of August, long before the The No. 1 thing this season that has indi-
first snap of college football was ever played, I cated a Michigan loss was imminent has been
asked Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez quarterback Chad Henne's performance. In every
specifically about this game. It was a night game game that Michigan has lost this year, Henne has
in Evanston, and last year the Wildcats knocked completed fewer than half his passes. In all the
off Ohio State in an overtime game - at night in wins, he's completed more than half. Henne was
Evanston. Road games are always tough, but this off his game on Saturday - completing just 17 of
one seemed particularly daunting. It was home- 30 passes. Although he made it over the halfway
coming and the game was on ESPN, so the Wild- mark, his constant flirtation with the 50-percent
cats were going to be fired up. And they really had barrier had me wondering if it just wasn't Michi-
the Wolverines right where they wanted them. gan's day. Henne has thrown an interception in two
E If this game were last year, Northwestern's of Michigan's three losses. On Saturday, he threw
spread offense would have torched Michigan for 40 three. Call me a pessimist, but I was skeptical that
points. Because of last year's dismal performances Michigan could pull out a win without its starting
against Michigan State, Ohio State and Texas - all quarterback or running back playing up to par.
teams with mobile quarterbacks - I still get that So let's recap. Michigan was playing on the
nervous feeling whenever Michigan takes on spread road, at night, in a nationally televised homecom-
teams with signal callers who can run. Maybe I ing game, against a spread offense, without its
shouldn't. The Wolverines have shut down all of the starting running back or star defensive end and
mobile quarterbacks they have faced this season. with its quarterback struggling. Add to that the fact
Now the big ones. When I got to the press that Michigan actually lost the turnover battle and
box, I noticed that Mike Hart and LaMarr Wood- had injuries to starting center Adam Kraus and left
ley were both dressed. This was a good sign. tackle Adam Stenavich, and it's easy to understand
Neither Hart nor Woodley played more than a few why this game had me spooked.
snaps last week against Iowa, and it was unclear But somehow, with all of that going against
whether or not they would play this week. But the them, the Wolverines did the unthinkable and won.
feeling of relief I felt when I saw them in white jer- It makes you wonder if maybe Michigan finally
seys was overshadowed almost immediately when has its head on straight. And maybe it's time for
neither of them took the field. me to stop believing in ghosts.
Red-shirt Junior Erin Cobler had eight kills and four blocks on Saturday night against Illinois.
despite valiant efforts Saturday by Miller, who
led the team with 15 kills, and Bruzdzinski with
13 of her own. Fifth-year senior Candace Gay
stepped up for Michigan, filling in last minute in
both games for injured junior Megan Bowman.
In the Illinois match, Gay notched a total of seven
blocks, her career best, and added six kills. But
adding Gay as a late defensive plug didn't seem
to slow down the Illini too much, and they rolled
with a boisterous .229 hitting percentage.
"In general the defense was decent," Gay said.
"We could always do better defensively - we
work on that every day, all week. But, as soon as
I made one mistake the coach got all over me and
I fixed it from then on."
Illinois's 30-24, 15-30, 24-30, 24-30 win put
it in a three-way tie for sixth place in the Big
Ten with Michigan and Iowa. Purdue (8-3, 19-3)
remains knotted at second place in the Big Ten
alongside No. 7 Wisconsin, who Michigan upset
Purdue blew away the Wolverines in three-
straight games (26-30, 23-30, 20-30) Friday
night. Michigan hit progressively worse over
the course of the match with percentages of
.200, .167 and .085. The No. 16 Boilermak-
ers dominated Michigan in all aspects of the
match, committing just 11 errors to the Wol-
verines' 25 and recording 12 blocks to Mich-
"In our conference it's always about hard
opponents," Rosen said. "It's the best conference
in the country for a reason and there are no weak
teams. On any given night, any team can beat
another team. But, it's certainly disappointing
because we didn't come on the road to go 0-2."
The Wolverines hope to rebound from these
two losses. Beginning this Friday, Michigan will
welcome No. 12 Minnesota (8-4, 18-5) and Iowa
(14-11, 4-8) to Ann Arbor followed by Michigan
State (10-12, 3-9) and Indiana (9-14, 2-9) the fol-
Hart's impact on the team is obvious. Though
the team has now won two-straight games essen-
tially without its star tailback, it looked for a while
- Ian Herbert can be reached
THE NEWIS WHAT
The first varsity eight boat placed third on the St. Joseph's River in South Bend on Saturday.
Top rowers excel at South Bend
By Arl Fink
For the Daily
On Saturday at noon, there were some
still dressed in unicorn costumes from
the previous evening's Halloween festivi-
ties. But the rowers sported their unisuits
instead. With the block 'M' on their
backs, the Michigan crew team turned in
a mixed performance in South Bend this
weekend on the St. Joseph's River.
The varsity eight and four's "A" crews
performed well - both placing 3rd. But
the "B" eight and four left something
to be desired in their head races against
Michigan State and Notre Dame. The
teams finished in sixth and seventh place,
respectively In head races, where boats do
not race next to each other, there is a run-
ning start and rowers are already at full
speed when they cross the starting line.
Coming off of an impressive effort at
the Head of the Charles last weekend in
Boston, while the first eight placed sev-
enth out of 49 boats, the team hoped to
end the fall season with a bang. The top
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15 rowers were boated evenly in the two
eights and only practiced for one day
together prior to the race, not giving them
much time to gel.
"We weren't moving together," said
sophomore Caitlin McAllister, who was
seated in the "B" eight. She added that,
going into the winter season, "we know
we need to get a lot faster and this is great
motivation to work hard on the ergs."
Although the varsity fall season has
concluded, this race was just the begin-
ning for the novices. In their first race
ever, the "A" novice boat came out
victorious, and the "B" and "C" boats
placed fourth and eighth respectively.
The team set high standards for itself
and hopes to improve in its competi-
tion against Eastern Michigan next
Saturday at Belleville Lake.
But this was the first time the entire
team had a chance to travel together
"It's great to travel with the whole team
because it's fun to see all of the new faces
on the novice team and how all of the
different personalities on our team come
together," former novice and current var-
sity rower Carrie Kraeger said.
Some chapters are coming to a close
while others are just starting to open
for the Wolverines this fall. The team
has about two weeks left on the water
before its focus turns to the ergs in
order to get stronger and faster for the
spring. The athletes won't be wearing
their unisuits for another six months
or so, but when they do, they plan to
live up to the tradition that the "M" on
their backs represents.
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