The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 5E
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - SE
'M' advances to first ever Final Four
By GREG GARNO onlyunseeded team remainingin
Daily Sports Writer the Elite Eight, the Wolverines
were never expected to mount a
C. 9, 2012 - This wasn't comeback, but they did.
sed to be the year. Both teams came out aggres-
is wasn't supposed to be the sive in the set, but it was the
n the Michigan volleyball Cardinal's blocking that caught
advanced to its first Final Michigan off-guard. Sophomore
in program history. With setter Lexi Dannemiller followed
freshmen on their roster, her game plan, isolating Erwin
rolverines weren't supposed and junior outside hitter Molly
e this successful against Toon. But the pair continually
d teams. found themselves stuffed at the
t after winning a five- net on several swings. When they
hriller against Tennessee, did manage to hit it around the
ing off No. 9 Louisville and wall, there was a Stanford defen-
sg in-state rival Michigan sive specialist waiting to pass.
Michigan capitalized on its The Wolverines, benefitting
ntum to topple No. 2 Stan- from a strong freshman squad,
in four sets, 20-25, 25-20, met an equally impressive fresh-
,25-20, inBerkeley, Calif.on man group from Stanford. With
day to advance to Louisville, the score tied at eight, a balanced
r its first-ever NCAA Tour- Cardinal front led by freshman
nt Final Four appearance. middle blocker Inky Ajanaku
e Cardinal, a dominant Pac- went on a 6-0 run to grab a com-
m that has seen action in the fortable lead and eventually close
eason every year in its histo- out the set.
s had the misfortune of fac- The Wolverines refused to stop
e Wolverines in three of the challenging Stanford's block-
ur years and was favored to ing scheme in the second set and
ach time. But Michigan has raced out to a 16-10 lead, capped
Stanford all three times. by a kill from right-side hitter
m just very proud of our Claire McElheny. Fourteen of the
"said Michigan coach Mark Wolverines' first 16 points came
. "The word 'team' is really on kills.
ey. I think this group has "We're a very balanced team
come together in the past and that's something we pride
h and a half and become one ourselves on," Cross said. "It was
best teams I've ever been a really about attacking the quick
f. tempo and then spreading out and
think we just approached giving our outsides an open space
Elite Eight) like any other to hit."
. They were just very Cross finished second on the
d, very loose, very normal. team with 15 kills after her strong
was completely like any effort the previous night. Toon
day, they were goofy, they followed with 12 kills and McEl-
silly and they were having heny with 11.
et they were focused." Following back-and-forth play
offense normally led by two from both teams in the third set,
s was not expected to have Michigan opened up a lead on a
;tep up, but Michigan fin- 6-1 run. Stanford took a timeout
with four hitters in double- but it was ineffective at slowing
kills. Junior outside hitter down a team that had no trouble
Erwin led the way as she responding to a powerful Car-
1 postseason, with 23 of the dinal defense. The Wolverines
s 69 kills, earning her the cruised through the remainder of
of NCAA Regional MVP. the set, riding a wave of momen-
)m the beginning of the first tum into the final.
appeared as if Stanford was With a two-set lead to boot,
ready for Michigan. As the Michigan looked like the team
takes NCAA title
Freshman Libero Tiffany Morales carried Michigan's defense to the Final Four.
that had been in this situation
before, the team that knew how to
close out big games in the fourth
set. Trailing 10-9, the Wolverines
put together a 5-0 run, leaving
Stanford looking drained.
Leading 15-13, Michigan
needed one final run to crush
any thought of a comeback in the
fourth set. The Wolverines did so
with a 4-0 run, which ultimately
allowed them to cruise to a match
point, which Erwin finished off
with an emphatic kill.'
The Wolverines, the team that
wasn't predicted to be celebrat-
ing, celebrated. They smiled as
they had all season, as even the
coaches knew they had accom-
Freshman libero Tiffany
Morales, playing in front of
friends and family in her home
state, bailed out Michigan when
it needed her most. The Redondo
Beach, Calif. native tallied 22 digs
on a night where she was all over
the court. Erwin, too, found her-
self doing more than hitting, con-
tributing16 digs of her own.
"Tiffany's progression has
been great," Rosen said. "I
thought last night she did an out-
standing job of just positioning
herself and making great defen-
sive plays, and she definitely car-
ried that through tonight."
Dannemiller, who continues
to be a catalyst for a team that
wasn't supposed to have a variety
of options to passto, finished with
59 of her team's 66 assists on the
"Our setter, I thought tonight,
set one of the best matches I've
seen her set in her career," Rosen
said. "She put our hitters in great
positions and made great deci-
sions throughout the match that
really allowed us to be successful."
It's likely Michigan, a team
without a real star, will once again
be underdogs when it travels to
Louisville to face Texas.
But that underdog mindset
doesn't exist anymore.
"It doesn't matter because
we're such a great team," Erwin
said. "We don't need our names
out there because no matter what
teams throw at us, 14 people are
coming at them."
By RAJAT KHARE
Daily Sports Writer
MARCH 31, 2013 - With
the NCAA title finally in hand,
it was time for Michigan head
coach Mike Bottom to have
some fun of his own. Adorned
in a plaid maize-and-blue shirt,
a blue tie emblazoned with Wol-
verines and dark brown pants,
Bottom leaped off the starting
blocks and into the diving pool,
joining the celebration of the
newly crowned Michigan men's
"It's definitely time to cel-
ebrate," Bottom said. "This
team has worked hard all year
at every meet and has swam fast
since they got off on the block.
They swam fast all throughout
the season, and they got here
and kept swimming fast."
The meet spanned from
Thursday to Saturday at IU
Natatorium in Indianapolis -
the exact location the Wolver-
ines won their last title in 1995.
"We have a lot of great alum-
ni that have sent me pictures
of them swimming around in
that pool," Bottom said, with a
chuckle, in his press conference.
"And we put some of those pic-
tures up and had some of them
come in and talk to us about that
With preparation, poise and
perhaps alittle luck, the Wolver-
ines were ready to make their
run at a title.
The quartet of sophomore
Bruno Ortiz, graduate student
Zachary Turke, and seniors
Sean Fletcher and Miguel Ortiz
got Michigan its first points of
the meet, placing third in the
200-yard freestyle relay. The
Wolverines would finish the
night with another third-place
finish in the 400-yard medley
relay event, as the quartet of
Miguel Ortiz, sophomore Rich-
ard Funk, Fletcher, and Bruno
Ortiz clocked in at 3:04.73, set-
tinga school record.
Michigan's onlywinof the day
came by way of junior Connor
Jaeger in the 500-yard freestyle,
who became the fifth Wolverine
ever to win the event. Jaeger had
won the event outright for Mich-
igan throughout the season, usu-
ally leading the race right from
the start. His record looked to
be in danger though, as Texas'
Michael McBroom wouldn't
allow Jaeger any separation. At
the 150-yard mark, Jaeger finally
made his move,holding off McB-
room for the event win, helping
Michigan take the day one lead
with 153 points.
The second day followed a
similar script, with the Wolver-
ines' relay teams making head-
lines. In the first event final of
the night, the quartet of Miguel
Ortiz, Bruno Ortiz, Fletcher
and Turke took first-place in
the 200-yard medley relay with
a time of 1:22.27, setting new
NCAA, U.S. Open, NCAA Cham-
pionship and school records.
The win also marked the first
time a Michigan relay team has
won a national title in the NCAA
Championship's 76-year history.
"We started out with one
recruiting class that we were
scrambling with because we
came in late," Bottom said at his
press conference. "And these are
the guys, you know, we had four
of them on that relay that broke
the national record and it's awe-
some to see."
The Wolverines also received
significant contributions from
Fletcher and Funk, both plac-
ing third in the 100-yard butter-
fly and 100-yard breaststroke,
respectively. With a second-
place finish in the 800-yard
freestyle relay, the team of
junior Michael Wynalda, Jaeger,
freshman Anders Nielsen and
redshirt junior Hassaan Khalik
helped Michigan end the night
in first place with 336 points.
"We didn't have a real confi-
dence that we would win this,"
Bottom said to ESPN on March
30. "By the second day, I looked
at our team and I said, 'Alright,
we've gotten in the top three,
now what do you want to do?'
They looked at me like I was
crazy. They looked at me and
said, 'We came here to win."'
And with Jaeger's first-place
finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle,
Michigan inched ever closer to
a national championship. With
the event win, Jaeger became
the first swimmer for Michigan
to win two individual events
since Tyler Clary - a gold med-
alist in this summer's Olympics
- accomplished the feat in 2009.
And surely enough, the Wol-
verines rounded out the event
with a second-place finish in
yet another relay. With a time
of 2:50.18, Miguel Ortiz, Turke,
Fletcher and Bruno Ortiz
ensured Michigan 34 points and
a National Championship.
"We never took our eyes off
the big show, but we went into
every meet and we wanted to
win, and we swam fast all year:
swam fast in dual meets, swam
fast in conference and we kept
getting better," aeger said. "We
kept believing, we kept follow-
ing the program we have set,
and this is a team fueled by pas-
sion. ... Passion for Michigan."
The title marks the 12th in the
history of Michigan swimming
and diving, but perhaps more
importantly, its recent triumph
breaks a tie between the Wolver-
ines and Buckeyes for the most
all-time championships. And to
top it all off, coach Bottom was
named Coach of the Year at the
culmination of the meet.
At the end, with his players
still celebrating in the pool, Bot-
tom sat alone on the side of the
pool, finallytaking it all in.
The Wolverines finished the
season with an 8-0 overall and
6-0 Big Ten record, but Bottom
said the team needed to push
on for Big Ten Championships.
When Michigan won its third
straight Big Ten Championship,
Bottom said the team needed to
keep swimming fast for NCAAs.
But now, with a NCAA title
under his belt, Bottom is finally
ready to celebrate.
Men's Gymnastics wins Championship
By ALEXA DETTELBACH
Daily Sports Writer
APRIL 21, 2013 - Going into
'W the final rotation of the NCAA
national championship Saturday
night, the Michigan men's gym-
nastics team held a half-point lead
over Oklahoma with only its floor
routine to go. But while the Soon-
ers and the other four teams were
anxiously waiting to begin their
last event rotations, the Wolver-
ines couldn't help but smile.
No. 3 Michigan (7-1 Big Ten,
27-2 overall) was up on the floor,
where it ranks first in the nation,
and knew it was only a rotation
away fromwinningthe program's
fifth national championship.
But the anticipation of winning
wasn't the only thing bringing
smiles to the Wolverine bench.
Junior Sam Mikulak was up by
2.95 points in the all-around com-
petition over his teammate, soph-
omore Adrian de Los Angeles. So
with first and second place locked
up in the all-around, a huge floor
routine was all that stood in
Michigan's way to a team title.
The Wolverines did more than
rise to the occasion on their floor
exercise, where they scored an
event-high 75.250, which gave
them a 443.200-440.100 blowout
over the second-place Sooners.
It's been 29 years since a team
won the NCAA team title by more
than three points.
"I knew we could score higher
on floor then Oklahoma could on
high bar, we just had to hit our
sets," said Michigan coach Kurt
Golder. "But it can happen where
one guy misses, then the next guy,
then the next guy, and it can be
really hard to get it turned around.
"We didn't have it clinched
(and) even though we had the
pressure on us, the guys were
ready for it and handled it really
Michigan's success on floor
also kept Mikulak in the lead for
the all-around championship,
wherehe ultimatelyedged out Los
Angeles with a career-best 91.150.
It's Mikulak's second all-around
title in three years, and the pairs'
1-2 finish for the all-around is the
first time teammates have done
that since the 1980s.
"Mikulak is special because of
his unselfishness," Golder said.
"Every interview that he has, he
just talks about how he didn't
have personal goals and (that)
everything was for the team. He
kept saying all he wanted was to
get one or two in the all-around
no matter the order, (just) as long
as it went to Michigan.
"He just wanted the team to
win, and that approach was really
great - just get out there and be
All in all, it was a storybook
weekend for the Wolverines, who
started out as well as they finished.
In the NCAA Qualifier on Fri-
day afternoon, the top 12 teams
in the nation competed for six
spots in the team finals Saturday.
Michigan needed to place in the
top three of its session in order to
advance, and the Wolverines set
the tone early, ultimately grab-
bing first place in their session.
Last season, Michigan also fin-
ished in the top spot in their ses-
sion but ultimately ended up in
last place after Saturday, so the
Wolverines knew they couldn't
let their early success leadcto over-
"Last year's problems really
helped us to get there this year,"
Golder said. "I mean, just about
the whole team was there last
year so that experience just
helped everyone this year.
"After we won our session last
year in the prelims, we were cel-
ebrating, but this year it was just
as usual and we had a 'We're not
done' mentality. So that really is
experience and maturation as a
Friday, Michigan scored
70-plus points on all six events,
but its performance on the par-
allel bars stole the show on the
first day of competition, scoring
a season-best 75.90. All three
Wolverine competitors broke the
personal 15-barrier, with senior
Syque Caesar leading the way
with his 15.60.
This time, Michigan's expe-
rience stood out in every event
Saturday. The confidence Golder
had in his team was reflected by
his decision to start the meet off
on championship Saturday with
pommel horse, widely considered
the hardest of the six events. The
Wolverines scored their third-
highest mark of the season, hit-
ting an event-high 72.250.
Michigan moved onto the
rings, where it had a terrific sec-
ond rotation. Junior Alex Bubnov
went first and set a career-high
15.25, followed by junior Jor-
dan Gaarenstroom, who also hit
a career best with his monster
From there, the Wolverines
made everything look easy. Miku-
lak took on his best event, the high
bar, where he scored a15.650. Sat-
urday night's podium was filled
with maize and blue, but it didn't
end there for Michigan, which
continued its dominance Sunday.
Eight Wolverines qualified for
individual finals, and five came
out with spots on the podium. In
addition, gymnasts who finish in
the top eight in individual events
are awarded All-American status
- Michigan tied a program high
Like the rest of the weekend,
Mikulak led the way on Sunday,
earning individual titles in high
bar and parallel bar, while grab-
bing third place on floor. The
13-time All-American and five-
time NCAA champion's high-bar
performance was so dominant
that he notched more then a point
higher than the next closest com-
petitor and scored a weekend-
"I honestly don't think I have
(had a better weekend)Miua
said. "Olympic trials were defi-
nitely really exciting for me, but
overall for this entire weekend, I
didn't miss a single routine. It just
kind of felt easy going with the
flow, I'm just real pleased with
how I did."
In addition to Mikulak's
achievements, Caesar got second
on the parallel bars and third on
the high bar. He also tied with
teammate senior Rohan Sebas-
tian for fourth on floor.
The Wolverines not only
earned the team title, the all-
around title and two individual
titles, but it also won the Big Ten
championship two weeks ago.
The Big Ten proved to be no cake-
walk, as four of the six teams that
qualified for Saturday came from
In the end, it was a perfect
weekend for Michigan.
"It's great to be a Michigan
Wolverine," Golder said. "We
had a great championship, you
get a one-two sweep, and the
all-around and win the team
title, (13) All-Americans and one
national champion on two events.
It doesn't get a whole lot better
than that. I'm very, very pleased
and anxious to host next year."
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Junior Sam Mikkulak was also a member of Team USAin the 2012 Olympics.