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February 06, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-06

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8A - Monday, February 6, 2012


The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Freshmen pick up "
the missing pieces

Michigan sophomore Joanna Sampson won the all-around title against West Virginia at Crisler Center on Friday. The Wolverines made a late comeback.
Sampson lea d

By GLENN MILLER JR. the end when we need them,"
Daily Sports Writer said Michigan head coach Bev
Friday night must have felt "At the end of the season, none
like deja vu for the Michigan of what happens now is going
women's gymnastics team. to matter, but it's hard because
In what appeared to be a everyone wants to put their best
repeat of last week's meet foot forward every weekend."
against Illinois, the Wolverines Michigan dominated in its
struggled on beam and were first rotation on vault, an event
forced to rely on a dominant that the team has been consis-
floor routine in the last event of tent in all season. Two career-
the night. high scores by freshman Sachi
It has become a trend this sea- Sugiyama (9.925) and junior
son for Michigan (4-0) to start Katie Zurales (9.900) led the
strong in Friday night's meet Wolverines, followed by sopho-
against West Virginia but be mores Stephanie Colbert and
unable to continue its success on Joanna Sampson, who tied for
the balance beam. The Moun- third.
taineers (5-2) then capitalized "It definitely gives us a lot of
on the opportunity to overtake confidence when you have a nice
the 22nd-ranked Wolverines start like that," Zurales said. "It
going into the final rotation. Led gets us going on a positive note.
by sophomore Joanna Samp- It gets the energy going and
son's all-around performance, everyone excited. And we can
Michigan's poise on floor helped use it for a springboard for the
edge out No. 20 West Virginia, other events, too."
194.650-194.050. Sampson and sophomore
Despite being undefe y ,-rittnee Martinez tied for first
its first three meets, Michigan's on uneven bars, addingto Michi-
overall team scores each week gan's impressive start. Sugiyama
have beenslightly disappointing. followed suit with a third-place
Since team score is the single finish, while nearly break-
determinant of NCAA ranking, ing another career-high on the
wins and losses aren't as crucial, night.
but the Wolverines have still The Wolverines were forced
continued to slip from their No. to count a fall on beam, however,
10 preseason rank. due to the absence of Katie Zura-
"If we have to bite the bullet les from both the bars and beam
now and not be scoring what we lineups. Zurales, who didn't
want to score, or even potential- compete in the all-around for
ly take a loss, then that's what the first time this season, was
we'll do to try and ensure we left out of the lineup for precau-
have kids healthy and prepared tions about reinjuring a shoulder
when they are in the lineups at she irritated in practice.

"It was important for them to
know that we can put five up in
events and still survive," Plocki
said. "All those little things
along the way that are confi-
dence builders are what help
them gain experience to know
that when the pressure is on in
some of the bigger competitions,
they can do what they need to
do. This team is getting more
mature every week we go along."
After a strong start on vault
and bars, the balance beam
once again proved to be Michi-
gan's downfall. Though they
improved from last week's dis-
appointing performance, the
Wolverines still had a few slip-
ups and were unsatisfied with
their final score. Nonetheless,
Sampson continued her career-
high night by posting Michigan's
top score for the event.
"I've become very good at
blocking things out and staying
focused, and the rest of the team
is doing that ell too," Sampson
said. "We regettingvbetter and
better each week. We'll get those
little things figured out for next
The Wolverines were fortu-
nate to have freshman Annette
Miele perform on beam, as the
extra score prevented having to
count a fall that could have fur-
ther damaged the team's total.
Going into their final event
on floor, Michigan trailed the
Mountaineers, 146.075-145.825.
Again, the Wolverines had to
dig themselves out of the deficit
while hoping that West Virginia
found similar struggles on beam.

Sampson capped her incred-
ible night by earning first-place
honors on floor, while winning
her first career all-around title
(39.300). Sophomore Reema
Zakharia also joined Sampson
at the top of the podium for the
"I've just been going to the
gym and doing my thing," Samp-
son said. "I'm coming in with a
lot of confidence and treating
each practice like a meet. It's
starting to pay off, and I hope it
Of course, the night wouldn't
be complete without stellar
performances by Sugiyama and
Zurales, both of whom are accus-
tomed to leading their team back
to victory. Miele, who made her
collegiate debut on floor, was the
final competitor to seal the Wol-
verines' close victory over West
"Bev just said, 'It's your time
to shine, this is what you've
worked for,' " Miele said. "I just
govreally excited. It really just'
pumped me up and maybe gavel
me a little bit too much energy
on my first pass, but I was just
It seems fitting that Miele
was asked to close out Friday's
narrow contest for her young
team. Three of the Wolverines'
four wins this season have been
decided in the final rotation of
the meet, demanding maturity
and confidence from the inexpe-
rienced squad.
"Every time we do it, it builds
confidence that they can do it
again," Plocki said.

Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's gym-
nastics team seems to be grow-
ing smaller and smaller by the
week. Three upperclassmen are
injured, there are no seniors, and
there aren't enough gymnasts
with set routines to compete.
The Wolverines have their work
cut out for them.
With only 11 girls on the team,
the recent loss of junior Nata-
lie Beilstein to' a season-end-
ing Achilles injury is a serious
setback. She was one of three
juniors on the squad and a clear
leader figure. She is also one of
the highest-scoring gymnasts on
the floor exercise.
"We definitely had to pick up
what (the injured athletes) left
open for us," said freshman Sachi
Sugiyama. "We have to just keep
a strong mind and know we're
capable of filling in their shoes."
"Every member of this team
fully understands that every
single thingthat they do matters,
that we don't have the luxury of
having a couple of people that
can take a break from an event,"
added Michigan coach Bev
Despite the injuries, the Wol-
verines have been unstoppable
this season
They narrowly defeated West
Virginia, 194.650-194.050, on
Friday night. With a shortage
of gymnasts who are able to
compete, Plocki is pulling out
her secret weapons: freshmen
Annette Miele and Sugiyama.
Sugiyama was put on the
"Gymnasts to Watch" list dur-
ing the preseason and has flipped
and twirled her way to multiple
first-place finishes so far this
season. In last week's meet,
Sugiyama proved to be a key
player, earning first place and a
career high on vault with a score

of 9.925, and winning third on
the uneven bars with a score of
9.800. She tied for third on floor
with junior Katie Zurales scoring
a 9.800. Sugiyama also took third
place in the all-around competi-
tion with a total score of 38.700.
Miele's college career is just
leaping into action. She was
scheduled to compete in the all-
around for the first time this
season, against West Virginia.
Miele was programmed to be the
sixth gymnast to do a routine on
vault, although only the top five
highest-scoring routines would
be counted in the final score.
After her teammates' near-per-
fect vault routines, her perfor-
mance was unnecessary, and
she was pulled from that round
and therefore dropped as an all-
around competitor.
"She is going to get better as
the weeks go along and more
confident in her performance,"
Plocki said. "I think she is going
to end up being a major contribu-
tor for us by the end of the sea-
Miele competed on the uneven
bars, beam, and on floor for the
first time this past weekend.
She did not expect to be a floor
competitor and had to come up
with a routine in just one week,
whipping together some last-
minute- dance movles urns.
Her routine looked flawless and
was good enough to earn her a
9.575 score. Sugiyama and Miele
are growingin importance to the
team as it dwindles in numbers.
"They have to give us every-
thing that they have, but they
also know that we're not going
to push them out there before
they're prepared and before
they're ready," Plocki said. "So
it's just a slower process this
year, but I think this team is get-
ting more mature and more con-
fident every single week that we
go along."




Michigan wins five of six singles matches Slow starts costs

Daily Sports Writer
Down 5-2 in the second set, it
looked almost certain that Michi-
gan sophomore Barrett Franks
was going to need a third set to
beat his opponent from LSU to
help his Wolverines win the dual
The Michigan men's tennis
team (3-2) was beating the 32nd-
ranked Tigers, (3-1), and needed
only one more win to clinch at 3-2.
But sophomore Shaun Bernstein
was just beginning his third set
after he dropped the second set to
LSU's Neal Skupski. At No. 5 sin-
gles, Franks was most likely going
to follow suit. Franks won the first
set in routine fashion, 6-4, after
breaking Stefan Szacinski's serve
to get a late lead before serving to
win the set. In the second, Franks
was broken in the second game
and went down 2-0. Five games
later, Franks had his back against
the wall.
"To be honest, I was thinking
that as long as I could get through
this service game, I knew the
pressure would be on him to serve
it out," Franks said.
Franks won the next game
handily, and Szacinski missed
several first serves in the fol-
lowing game, failing to close out
Franks and the match to a third
set. Franks had all the momentum
by that point in the match.
Franks drew even at five
games apiece and was looking as
confident as ever, while Szacin-

ski seemed to have lost focus and
any hope of forcing the match to
a third set. Up 6-5, serving for
the match, it was all but over for
Before Franks served for his
matc, and the dual-match victory,
his Michigan teammates started a
slow clap that echoed through the
Varsity Tennis Center. During the
point, Franks hit a deep approach
shot that allowed him to rush
the net and hit a drop-shot vol-
ley that Szacinski couldn't reach.
The Wolverine sophomore spiked
his racquet in celebration, as his
teammates went out on the court
to congratulate him for clinching
the dual.
Franks' fourth singles win of
the season was the difference in
Michigan's fourth dual victory
this year.
The Wolverines didn't start
off well in the top-30 matchup, as
they dropped the doubles point,
even after the No. 1 team of King
and Bernstein won its eight-game
The No. 2 doubles team of
Franks and sophomore Alex
Buzzi were broken at four-all, and
were never able to break back. At
No. 3, freshmen Alex Petrone and
Michael Zhu were overmatched
and overpowered.
"I thought LSU had really
strong No. 2 and No. 3 teams,
especially their No. 3 team," said
Michigan coach Bruce Berque. "If
we played really well, we would've
had a shot, but you could really see
the difference between men and

freshmen at No. 3."
Despite losing the doubles
point for the first time this season,
the Wolverines responded by win-
ning five of six first sets in singles
"After losing the doubles point,
it's easy to be kind of wander-
ing and be a little bit shaken, but
I think our guys really went after
it and our execution was just bet-
ter," Berque said.
At No. 3 and No. 4 singles,
Petrone and Zhu finished off their
opponents in quick straight-set
victories, putting Michigan in
front, 2-1. King was the next Wol-
verine to finish beating Olivier
Borsos at No. 1 singles.
The Wolverines' top player
orchestrated a perfect first set,
ending most points with a winner.
Borsos even paid his complements
to King when he yelled "unbeliev-
able," after one of King's many
fantastic shots.
After stormingthrough the first
set, King motioned to the crowd to
get loud, and they responded with
no trouble. But King's animated
opponent wasn't having any of it,
and he jumped out to a 2-0 lead in
the second set.
"I completely lost focus," King
said. "I had a lot of fun out there,
which is a great thing, but can also
be kind of dangerous. Whether or
not you're playing No. 1 or No. 6,
if you lose your focus for a while,
you're going to get down."
But at 3-4, King broke the
Tiger's serve to knot the set at
four games. King served up a fast

game, cruising to a 5-4 lead and
then looking to the crowd again
for noise.
Borsos was simply out of gas by
that point. He had given the No. 6
player in the country everything
he had, including loud grunts
after every stroke, but it wasn't
enough. He dropped his next ser-
vice game to give King the game,
set and match.
"I found it funny (how ani-
mated he was)," Kingsaid. "That's
college tennis, and that's what
it should be. I knew that if I got
focused, I would be fine and play
my game."
After the conclusion of King's
match, Franks finished off Szacin-
ski for the dual win, but Bernstein
wasn't finished at No.2 singles. In
the third set, Bernstein came from
behind and sent the set to a tie-
breaker. After squandering four
match points, Bernstein finally
closed it out against Skupski for
his third win of the season.
"It's great for my confidence,"
Bernstein said. "Getting wins is
always great, but it's just about
improvement, and I do think I
showed some definite improve-
ment in some areas that I've been
working on, so that's always a
huge positive."
Bernstein's win made the Wol-
verines' dual victory look sweeter,
as they avenged last season's loss
to LSU by the same score, 5-2.
Michigan enjoyed its third victory
at home this season, but the team
will only play one match in Ann
Arbor in the next five weeks.

M' weekend sweep

catch u
en's te
see. M
to find
ines (4
18 Van
two ou
the lon
on Fri
an 8-6
on Frid
ed Ten
on Sun
to eigh
stein s
to get b

By PETER RIEDY out this weekend, defeating
For the Daily Vanderbilt's Alex Leatu on Fri-
- day, 6-3, 6-4, and Tennessee's
starts in matches didn't Caitlyn Williams on Sunday,
ap to the Michigan wom- 6-2,1-6, 6-1.
nnis team until Sunday On Sunday, the Wolverines
ng against No. 17 Tennes- fell short in their comeback bid,
lichigan has lost its last losing to No. 17 Tennessee, 5-2.
doubles points and needs The Wolverines repeated Fri-
a way to fix its sloppy day's doubles performance by
ings. losing two out of three doubles
ay afternoon, the Wolver- matches.
-1) rallied back to beat No. Lee and freshman Kristen
derbilt, 4-3, after losing Dodge won five straight games
t of three doubles match- in their match, coming back
from a 7-1 deficit. However, they
higan finished strong by fell short and lost the match,
ig four straight singles 8-6. Bektas and Brooke Bolender
ns. won the only Michigan doubles
or -Mimi Nguyen and match, 8-6, against Tennesee's
Michelle Sulahian was Pluskota and Williams.
e Wolverine duo to escape The doubles woes continued
'bilt with a doubles win for the Wolverines, and Bern-
day afternoon, recording stein is looking for consistency.
victory. There is still time for the Wol-
.hman Emina Bektas, verines to figure it out, even
l No. 36 in the nation, though they will have a short-
ed Vanderbilt's Jackie Wu ened practice schedule this
lay, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 and best- week as they travel to Charlot-
nessee's Natalie Pluskota tesville, Va. this Friday.
day morning, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, That, then, leaves a trial-and-
ing her winning streak error of pairings to fix the habit
it consecutive individual of sluggish starts that the Wol-
es. verines have grown accustomed


're fortunate to get
h to win the four singles,"
an coach Ronni Bern-
aid. "We definitely need
retter with the doubles."
hman Sarah Lee stood

"We're going to switch up
some (doubles) teams to get
some energy in there," Bern-
stein said. "I'm not concerned.
It's so early (in the season)."

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