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November 03, 2005 - Image 10

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1OA - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 3, 2005

Gay comes through for Spikers

By Lindsey Ungar
Daily Sports Writer
As a fifth-year senior with just six career starts
before last weekend, Candace Gay had become
accustomed to playing the roles of both motivator
and teacher. But, when junior middle blocker Megan
Bowman went down with an ankle injury prior the
Purdue game last Friday, Michigan coach Mark
Rosen turned to Gay for some relief.
She provided much more than that.
Gay set a career-high with seven blocks against
Illinois on Saturday. She had 13 kills and totaled
nine blocks, which led the team over the weekend.
"That's always been an Achilles' heel for her:
her blocking," Rosen said. "For her to get thrown
into that environment and then go out there and
lead us in blocks was awesome. That's a testament
of how hard she's worked to make her weaknesses
into her strengths and be ready when the opportu-
nity arose."
Bowman's shoes aren't easy to fill, either. She's
ranked seventh on Michigan's all-time blocks list
with 352 rejections, and she has started 76 matches
in her career.
But Gay is no stranger to challenges on the court.
Purdue and Illinois were her first two starts of the
year, and she has seen limited playing time in her
career at Michigan. But she knows her role, and she
exceeded expectations yet again this weekend.
"I basically did what I always do - I played really
hard," Gay said. "I jumped high, went fast and did
whatever I could do to help the team."
Gay's biggest impact wasn't felt on the court this
weekend, though. Her presence off the court with
the young, struggling Wolverines (4-8 Big Ten, 10-
1 overall) is what sets her apart.

"There were a couple of years where in practice
she was the only other middle blocker besides our
starting middles," Rosen said. "So, when we did any
kind of scrimmages, she'd be on the other side, hav-
ing to play front-row the entire time. Normally they
play through rotations. After practice, she would just
be dripping with sweat, working twice as hard as all
the other middles - and she never balked.
"She's a very unique player from that standpoint,
where she's all about the team, all about what she
can do to help her teammates. And I think they see
that, and that's a great example to have in the gym

"She's never been anything but 100-
percent committed to our program; she
works her tail off every day."
Coach Mark Rosen

Gay played four years of varsity volleyball at
Sacred Heart Academy in Detroit and also competed
with a club team, the University of Michigan-Dear-
born Victors, winning a state championship with the
latter in 2000. Central Michigan, Western Michigan
and Rosen's crew took notice, but Gay originally had
no desire to play at the collegiate level.
"I was just playing because I loved it so much,
it was so much fun and I was good at it," Gay said.
"When Mark recruited me, I discovered that maybe I
can play at that high of a level. That's when I decided
to play collegiate volleyball."
Said Rosen: "It's a really big step for her, com-
ing from a small school to competing and training
at a Big Ten level, where there's a big time commit-
ment. She's a very well-rounded person; school's
very important to her, social life's very important
to her - she just has a lot of outside interests, and
we didn't know how she committed she would be
long-term. She's never been anything but 100-per-
cent committed to our program; she works her tail
off every day."
With Bowman's return to the lineup doubtful for
the Minnesota game this Friday and the Iowa con-
test on Saturday, Rosen will start Gay again with the
hope that she will provide the same spark as she did
this past weekend. The Wolverines need to win five
of eight matches to clinch a .500 record and qualify
for the postseason.
"We need to buckle down, since we really have
our backs against the wall," Gay said. "We need
to work on the things that are hurting our game -
our defense, serving and offense. We've also been
working on communication this week in practice.
We're going to need to put all the small things
together to be successful. We can still make the
(NCAA) Tournament."

W

every day."
Even though Gay started just one match last sea-
son, her parents traveled to every game - home and
away - to watch the Wolverines play. Rosen thinks
her parents' dedication to the team effort rubbed off
on Gay, whose focus on putting team goals first is
undeniable.
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Rosen
said. "If she played, hey, that's great. But, if she didn't,
(her parents were there to support the team).... They're
just very unselfish, team-oriented people."

RUDIGU UAYA/Daily
Fifth-year senior Candace Gay has filled in admirably for the injured Megan Bowman.

Stickers look to repeat history

m Big
$y David Spielman
Daily Sports Writer

Ten

Tourney opener

How little difference a week makes. Just seven
days after their last meeting in Ann Arbor, the No.
10 Michigan field hockey team and No. 11 Iowa will
;meet this Friday in the first round of the Big Ten
Tournament.
Last Friday, in the teams' final regular season
conference match, Michigan (12-7 overall, 3-3 Big
Ten) and Iowa (10-7, 3-3) played into sudden death
overtime. The Wolverines played solid team defense
all game and prevailed 2-1 on sophomore forward
Lucia Belassi's goal.
But the Michigan players know that the postseason
is a new season. They also know that this weekend's
'match will be in Iowa City, where the hometown
Hawkeyes will be playing in front of their fans. But
Michigan doesn't think the venue will determine the
result of the match. The Wolverines hope they will
have the same intensity as last week and gain the
same result.
"We beat them in a close game, so hopefully we'll
come out and execute against them again," junior
goalkeeper Beth Riley said.
The Wolverines know that Iowa will benefit
from being on its home field, but they are planning
on stepping up their intensity in order to even the
playing field.
"Playing in Iowa just gives us more incentive to
play better," Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. "We
are going to be ready for any team that we play in
this tournament. Our players have practiced with
great tempo, so we'll be ready."
With three-straight losses to begin the year, Cox's
first season at the helm has been an up-and-down
affair. But, most importantly, the team is entering
the postseason on a positive note after winning six
of its last seven matches.
Last year, the 2004 Michigan team won the

ICE HOCKEY
Far dig'S
'M' tes
go eep
By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
Only time for one Hail Mary. Kordell
Stewart back to pass. A tip. And a
Michael Westbrook reception. Game
over. Colorado wins.
With that as his earliest Michigan
memory, it's a wonder Wolverines for-
ward Danny Fardig decided to skate for
the Maize and Blue a decade later.
"My dad and I were at the stadium,"
Fardig said. "We thought (the game)
was in the bag, so we headed out. Then
we heard a big roar and we were like,
'Uh-oh.' We had to see the replay on
TV later."
Danny's father, Don, played hockey
at Michigan from 1973-76 and golf
from 1973-75. His uncle, Dave, played
hockey for the Wolverines in 1981. He,
too, was on the golf team, from 1979-
81. With that history, there was never
any question as to whether or not Danny
would follow his family's tradition.
"As soon as I could walk, I could
skate," Fardig said. "I grew up playing
a lot of sports, but hockey and golf were
the main ones, since my dad and uncle
played here. "
Despite skating for the Wolverines,
Fardig's father never pressured him
into going to Michigan. But growing up
in Ann Arbor has a way of influencing
college decisions.

"Indirectly, my dad influenced me,
because I grew up around the rink,"
Fardig said. "Because I grew up in Ann
Arbor, I've hated Michigan State since
the day I was born."
Fardig always knew he wanted to.
end up in Ann Arbor. So when he got
his chance to join Michigan's hockey
team as a recruited walk-on, he jumped
at the opportunity. Fardig quickly
made an impression on the Michigan
coaching staff with his dedication in
practice.
"He's the kind of kid that grows on
you," Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "From day one of practice he has
fit right in. He's a kid that just wants to
give you everything he's got."
Though giving it your all, night in
and night out, may be difficult for some
players, to Fardig it's just a natural part
of competing.
"I came to this team trying to work
as hard as I can," Fardig said. "I'm not
going to change. I'm not the guy who
will be on the power play or score five
goals. Working hard is all I know."
With the early departures of Mike
Brown and Jeff Tambellini to the
NHL this past summer, Fardig has
gotten his shot sooner than expected.
Playing center for Michigan's fourth
line, the freshman notched his first
career goal as a Wolverine in the sea-
son opener at home against Quinnipi-
ac. He has played in six of Michigan's
seven games.
Older Michigan fans might try to
look for similarities between Fardig's
style of play and that of his father's
from 30 years ago. But Danny says the
name on the back of his jersey is where
the comparisons should stop.
"We're totally different players,"
Fardig said. "I work a little harder than
he did, and I hit a lot more than he did.
I think he threw about three checks in
his whole career."

-i Lv tAIl'Lny
Lucia Belassi scored the game-winning goal in overtime last week against Iowa in the teams' last meeting.
Big Ten Tournament. But this year's squad has getting better as the season moves along. Right now,
taken a different path to the postseason than its the whole team is very comfortable and very confi-
predecessor. dent in how we're playing."
"It's going to be a whole different experience than That especially holds true for how the team feels
last year," Belassi said. "Going into the Big Ten about playing against Iowa.
Tournament, last year's team was coming off of a "We've beaten them once, so we can totally beat
great conference season, while this year we've been them twice," Belassi said.

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