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September 13, 2013 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-13

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8A - Friday, September 13, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Unefeated 'M'
aces first roa test

4

ByLEVFACHER
Daily Sports Writer
In the first weekend of the
season, the Michigan women's
volleyball team took on three
unranked teams on the road. In
their second
weekend, the
Wolverines Michigan at
faced a top-15, TexasA&M
Pac-12 pro-
gram at home. Matchup:
Now, they'll Michigan
take the show 5-0; Texas
on the road to
face quality When: Fri-
opposition in day 7 p.m.
a hostile envi- Where: Col-
ronment for lege Station
the first time
- according
to Michigan
coach Mark Rosen, the schedule
couldn't be set up any better.
Friday, the Wolverines travel
to College Station, Texas for the
* Texas A&M Invitational, where
Michigan will face the host
Aggies, Siena and No. 16 Florida
State in a span of just 24 hours.
"(The schedule) really sets
up well," Rosen said. "Now we
have to deal with a football game
atmosphere at Texas A&M, just
like we had last week."
Before last Saturday after-
noon's game against the Ducks,
the Wolverines unveiled their
2012 national semifinalist ban-
ner in front of a raucous crowd
of 1,345. The atmosphere and
large crowd were largely aided
by the excitement and influx
of Michigan fans in Ann Arbor
for the football team's Saturday
night game against Notre Dame,
an advantage that Rosen readily
admitted.
"What a great atmosphere,"
Rosen said. "The crowd, just the
spiritofMichigangoingso strong
... It makes you feel great about
playing in a place like Michigan
when you have that opportunity
to play in an environment like
that."
The Wolverineswill get ataste
of their own medicine on Friday,
when they face off against Texas
A&M. College Station is expect-
ing an influx of fans from around
the state and country through-
out the weekend for the Aggies'
high-profile gridiron clash with
No. 1 Alabama, meaning the
crowd at Reed Arena should be
particularly large and boisterous.
"We got a taste of that (envi-
ronment) at Xavier," Cole said.
"It's definitely a big factor."
The seventh-ranked Wolver-
ines (5-0) were dominant in their

I
I

AUS'INHUr'e/uOaily
Senior captain Lexi Erwin is ninth in the Big Ten with 3.69 kills per set.

first three games of the year' at
the Xavier Invitational in Cin-
cinnati, beating Clemson, Xavier
and Northern Kentucky all in
straight sets.
They then returned to Ann
Arbor for their home-opening
weekend, which featured a
tougher pair of matchups with
two Pac-12 schools: Oregon State
and then-No. 12 Oregon. The
Beavers gave Michigan trouble
on Friday night, earning a win in
the fourth set before succumb-
ing to defensive pressure from
freshman middle blocker Abby
Cole, who tallied 16 kills and nine
blocks on the night.
The Wolverines swept Oregon
on Saturday afternoon, but the
three-set victory belied the fact
that the match was likely their
closest of the year - Michigan
didn't win a set by more than four
points.
Michigan will have to contend
with more than just a hostile
environment against the Aggies
and Seminoles. Texas A&M is 6-1
so far, with its loss coming to No.
15 Iowa State. Meanwhile, Flor-
ida State is likely the ACC's best
team, and the Seminoles will be
lookingto avoid a second straight
loss to a Big Ten school - they
fell to No. 13 Ohio State last Fri-
day.
The Wolverines struggled
away from the friendly confines
of Cliff Keen Arena last season,
posting a record of 6-7 in road
games and going 2-3 in away
matchups against ranked teams.

Cole looks to play a big role in
ensuring Michigan's road record
doesn't suffer the same fate
in 2013. She'll face off against
another young, highly touted
middle blocker in Texas A&M's
Shelby Sullivan, who posted a
career-high six blocks to go along
with nine kills in the Aggies'
sweep of Siena on Thursday.
The Wolverines will have
to watch out for Florida State's
dynamic duo of Nicole and Elise
Walch. The sisters from Stuart,
Fla., have paced the Seminoles
offensively and have already
posted 71 and 52 kills, respec-
tively, on the young season.
What's even more impressive is
that Nicole leads the team in kills
despite her relatively low hitting
percentage of .214, meaning that
if her accuracy improves against
Michigan, she'll be a force to be
reckoned with.
Freshman middle blocker
Gabbie Bulic, who's flown under
the radar largely due to Cole's
impressive start, can also expect
to see more game action at some
point in the near future.
"Gabble's good," Rosen said.
"She hasn't gotten as much
action just because of our depth,
but everybody's going to need to
contribute."
The weekend is key for the
Wolverines in the defense of
their Final Four run last season
- Michigan can expect to climb
into the top five with three wins,
or fall out of the top 10 with a
loss.

4

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MEN'S LACROSSE
Gaughan looking to
make big comeback

By JASON RUBINSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
Brendan Gaughan entered
Michigan as one of the men's
lacrosse team's highest-rated
recruits. But before the season,
Gaughan learned he wouldn't
see the field for at least a year.
While tryingto make time in the
preseason conditioning test, he
planted his leg funny and imme-
diately knew something was
wrong.
After consulting the Michigan
medical staff, Gaughan learned
he tore his meniscus and would
be forced to take a medical red-
shirt.
Gaughan, a redshirt freshman
from Carlsbad, Calif., went from
being ESPN Rise's No. 7 attack-
man to watching the 2013 season
from the bench - a reality check
for a highly regarded player.
His high-school records of
223 points and 137 goals earned
him an invitation to the Under
Armour All-American game
and then to Michigan. But none
of that mattered. Nothing was
guaranteed anymore.
"High school is high school,
and that rank happened,"
Gaughan said. "I'm fortunate for
the publicity I was given, but this
is a new level. This is Michigan,
and it no longer matters how
I

good you were in high school. It's
how good you are in (Division I)."
Spending time on the sidelines
for a whole year could be enough
to ruin a player's morale. How-
ever, Gaughan saw the positives.
He witnessed firsthand the up-
and-down season the lacrosse
team endured.
Even though he couldn't play,
Gaughan knew his sideline ener-
gy would translate to his team-
mates on the field - and that's
just what he did.
And now, finally healthy,
Gaughan looks forward to show-
ing everyone the type of player
he knows he can be.
Only one roadblock, the depth
chart, lies in his way. He is not
currently listed as a starter. But
Gaughan knows his playing time
will come.
"All summer, I was training,
lifting and getting stronger,"
Gaughan said. "I worked on my
lacrosse IQ - no matter how
smart you are, you can be smart-
er. I am always looking to add to
my arsenal and will always try to
improve my shooting.
"But I will back coach John
Paul 100 percent on who plays.
No matter where I am, ISwill give
100 percent. I could not be hap-
pier here."
Could Gaughan's return com-
bined with another star-studded

recruiting class finally bring the
Wolverines more than one win?
Only time will tell.
"We expect to win the ECAC,
beat Ohio State and come out
on top of every game," Gaughan
said. "Winning is our No.1 prior-
ity. Last year, we only won one
game, and I can speak for the
team - we were pretty pissed
off about that. It's growing pains
and frustrating, but the wins will
come."
However, talent alone isn't
enough to guide this team to
success. Gaughan claims that
Paul has created a culture and
standard in which every player
is accountable for one another.
Gaughan believes it's that very
dynamic that will create wins.
Team aside, Gaughan still has
a personal battle to overcome.
The redshirt freshman is fight-
ing to erase his injury from his
mind because it will be harder to
reach his potential if the creep-
ing thought of getting re-injured
remains.
Yet Gaughan claims he's ready.
"I'm going to put the injury
behind me," he said. "Our train-
ing staff is second to none and
has one of the greatest health
facilities out there. I'm doing
everything I can to stay healthy.
"I'm really looking forward to
finally contributing."

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