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December 07, 2007 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-12-07

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, December 7, 2007 - 9

The Michigan volleyball team is in search of its first victory over Penn State in the program's history. A win would put the Wolverines in the Elite 8, and extend their longest run in their history.
Blue looks for upset in Sweet 16

By RUTH LINCOLN
Daily Sports Writer
Seven banners hang on the wall of Cliff
Keen Arena celebrating the Michigan vol-
leyball team's NCAA Tournament appear-
ances.
But when this season's banner is raised,
it will be different from all the others.
Rather than commemorating a first- or sec-
ond-round exit, this season's banner, at the
very least, will mark an accomplishment no
Michigan volleyball team has ever achieved

before - an appearance in the Sweet 16.
Not only does tonight's match against
No. 1 Penn State mark the Wolverines' first
ever NCAA Sweet 16 showing, but it could
be the first time they walk off the court in
State College victorious.
Michigan has been unsuccessful there in
each of its 16 tries. The Nittany Lions (20-
0 Big Ten, 30-2 overall) proved the nation's
volleyball powerhouse this season. Sitting
comfortably at No. 1 since Oct. 29, Penn
State boasts five hitters taller than 6-foot-
2 and four players on the 12-member AVCA

First Team All-Mideast Region.
"I think what's most important for us
is just going in there believing that we can
win and playing as hard as we possibly can
and good things will happen," senior co-
captain Lyndsay Miller said.
Michigan (10-10, 24-10) enters the Sweet
16 fresh off its 3-0 NCAA second-round
upset of No. 21 Colorado State. Saturday's
victory was the Wolverines' first over a
ranked opponent since their season opener
over then-No. 10 Hawaii in late August.
Instead of celebrating the unexpected

sweep, Michigan quickly switched its
mindset to the next round of the tourna-
ment.
"It was really quick, literally seconds,
from when we went in the locker room.
You could feel the shift from excitement
to anticipation of what's next," Michigan
coach Mark Rosen said. "That's something
I'm really proud of because it would be easy
for them to shut down now and enjoy the
process."
Michigan has played its bestvolleyball of
late. Winning seven of its last 10 games, the

team has overcome a mid-season lapse in
which it went 4-7 and showcased the win-
ning skill and determination that allowed it
get off toa 13-0 start.
"We've finished strong," Rosen said.
"That's something we talk about all the
time within our program, players as well
as the coaches, about the sign of a good
team - a team that is playing their best
volleyball at the end of the year, not the
beginning. They don't want to stop play-
ing, and I certainly don't want to stop
coaching them."

'M' has revenge on its mind

By COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
Daily Sports Writer
As they watched former Bowl-
ing Green forward Rich Meloche
climb the glass in celebration of his
team's 5-3 home win, the 2005-06
Wolverine squad probably thought
they were just witnessing a one-
time fluke against a bad team. But
last year, it happened again - the
then-6-23-1 Falcons upset Michi-
gan, 3-2, on Bowling Green's home
ice.
Bowling Green is no longer a
bottom-feeder this season. And
now, the Wolverines say they're
ready.
"We'll have more respect for
them," Michigan coach Red Beren-
son said. "That's always a tough
challenge for the coaches. How do
you respect the last-place team?
How do you be really focused to
play your hardest and your best
when you don't think the opponent
is any good?
"That's kind of what I think may
have happened in the last few years.
Maybe some of our players thought
they were a lot better than Bowling
Green. ... I don't think we'll have
this problem this year."
No. 3 Michigan (9-1 CCHA, 14-2
overall) will play the 18th-ranked
Falcons (5-3, 8-4) at Bowling Green
Friday before returning to Yost to
close the series Saturday.
To come away with a series win,
Michigan's penalty-killing unit
will need to shut down the Falcons'
potent power play. Bowling Green
has scored an impressive 20 of its
40 goals this season with the man
advantage. Last weekend, the Fal-
cons converted 50 percent of their
power-play chances against Wayne
State.
Since the Wolverines conceded
five power-play goals to North
Dakota in their season-ending 8-5
NCAA loss last season - a penalty-
killing showing Berenson called an
"embarrassment" - Michigan has
put a greater emphasis on assem-
bling this season's penalty-killing
unit.
Berenson said he looks for play-

For Wolverines, it's
good to be home again
By ALEX PROSPERI to improve on in its three games
Daily Sports Writer before the Big Ten season begins,
Borseth didn't hold much back.
After giving up 59 points in its "There's so many things that we
last two road games, it's hard to lack," Borseth said. "There (are)
blame the Michigan women's bas- so many areas of concern that we
ketball team for being happy to have, that to point out any one in
come home. particular is really difficult. But
Michigan (4-3) returns to Crisler just sense of urgency in everything
Arena tomorrow to face Kentucky that we do, offensively getting to
after a six-game road trip. It has the rim and defensively getting the
been nearly a month since the Wol- shooters."
verines last played a game in Ann Kentucky doesn't have the cre-
Arbor. dentials of the Aggies or Irish, but
"It feels so good," senior Krista it doesn't lack talent by any means.
Clement said. "It's going to be fun The Wildcats (3-3) have two
to play in Crisler, but more impor- second-team All-SEC selections
tantly, we've all been complaining from last year in guard Samantha
a little bit about our school. We've Mahoney and center Sarah Elliott.
just been on the road. It just wears Mahoney averages 17.3 points per
on you." game and has hit the 20-point
The wear and tear of a six-game mark twice this season. Sopho-
road trip that spanned five states more Krista Phillips is the lone
was visible in the Wolverines' past Wolverine to score 20 points in a
two games. game this season.
No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 16 Elliott averages 12.6 points per
Notre Dame outplayed Michigan game and 7.3 rebounds per contest.
and brought out the Wolverines' More important, the senior has
weaknesses. 15 blocks, compared to the entire
The Wolverines shot a dismal 29 Michigan team, which has just 19.
percent from the field in those two And when Elliott and Phillips
lopsided defeats. Michigan was are in the paint, there won't be a
outrebounded and committed 24 shortage of height. Both centers
more turnovers than the opposi- are 6-foot-6. Tomorrow will mark
tion, too. one of the few times Phillips goes
"There were some bright spots against an opponent of the same
against Texas A&M," Michigan size.
coach Kevin Borseth said. "We just Even after a tough loss to the
didn't play very well (against Notre Irish, Clement liked what she
Dame) on either side of the basket- saw at the end of the Notre Dame
ball, and that was real dishearten- game.
ing." "More than anything, we just
Although the game is tomorrow, started to play together better,"
Borseth is more focused on his Clement said. "Toward the end of
team than the Wildcats. the game, rather than just giving
"This has got more to do with up, we really came together and
us," Borseth said. "Granted the kind of said, 'The last six minutes
competition we have, we need to we're going to try to win.' And
prepare for it because they are I think that meant a lot to our
very good, but we seem to be in our team."
own way. At this point, right now, It may have been a sentimen-
we really haven't found our iden- tal win for the Wolverines, but a
tity and we're working at trying to return home means it's time for
work out all the kinks." something more than moral vic-
Asked what his team needed tories.

Michigan coach Red Berenson doesn't think the Wolverines will overlook Bowling Green this year

ers with sharp defensive responsi-
bility, awareness and anticipation.
"(Freshman Matt) Rust knows
where the puck's going, and you'll
see him anticipate where the puck's
going, so he has good defensive
anticipation, whereas other play-
ers are more herky-jerky," Beren-
son said. "(Senior Chad) Kolarik
is smart. He's in position, he's got
a smart stick, he knows where the
play's going, so he gets by on his
smarts."
The unit has allowed 10 goals in
88 power plays, but it has let in just
two goals in the past four games.
Though the penalty-killing unit
has evolved, its performance this
weekend will indicate how much
Michigan has actually improved

since last year.
"We really haven't changed (the
penalty-killing unit) that much
(since last weekend)," Rust said.
"Coach just emphasizes that they
scored half their goals onthe power
play, and they have a better power-
play percentage than we do. It's
going to be a deciding factor, espe-
cially in this weekend's games."
Michigan also hopes to boost its
offensive production this weekend
by moving defenseman Chris Sum-
mers to forward. Scoring hasn't
usually been a problem for the
Wolverines, but they couldn't score
until late in last Friday's 3-2 loss to
Ohio State.
"I think we'll just have to stick
to our game plan," junior Tim

Miller said. "Last Friday, we came
out strong, but we didn't get our
bounces, we hit a bunch of goal
posts, so we got a little frustrated."
Frustration seems to be the
theme of the Wolverines' last few
games on Bowling Green's home
ice. In last year's 3-2 loss, Michigan
gave up the game-winning goal
with 35 seconds left in regulation.
"It's amazing how that rink
seems to bring out the best and
worst in our team," Berenson said.
"The last two years, we haven't
done as well in there as we should
have and we need to correct that.
But this is a new team, and they're
a new team. I don't think history
has any bearing on what's going to
happen this weekend."

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