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December 06, 1995 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-12-06

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 6, 1995

Spikers finish season with a bang

By Chris Murphy
and Doug Stevens
Daily Sports Writers
Two of the key components to the
success of any team on the collegiate
level are talent and experienced lead-
ership. Given these factors, it is no
surprise that the Michigan volleyball
team increased its win total over the
past year from eight to 19 in overall
play and from four to 11 in the Big
Ten.
The Wolverines' co-captains, Shan-
non Brownlee and Suzy O'Donnell, not
only led the team by example, but also
through their uncanny ability to moti-
vate their teammates to step it up during
crucial situations.
Brownlee led Michigan during the
regular season in kills (456), attempts
(1,160) and digs (313), and became the
first Michigan player ever to make the
All-Conference first-team.
O'Donnell was Michigan's regular
season leader in kill percentage, con-
verting on 31 percent of her spikes. But
her most important role was as the
team's leading defender. She led areju-
venated middle blocking corps that
spurred the team to 185 blocks on the
season.
"Without (Brownleeand O'Donnell),
we wouldn't have had nearly the suc-
cess we had," coach Greg Giovanazzi
said. "They played as well as I have
ever seen from a Michigan athlete."
It is obvious when looking at the stats
that the team's co-captains played cru-
cial roles on the offensive end. This is

due in part to the emergence of setter
Linnea Mendoza.
Mendoza played the role of quarter-
back throughout the season as she kept
the offense organized by consistently
working the ball to the team's outside
hitters and middle blockers. This is evi-
denced by Mendoza's 1,277 assists in
the regular season. Her 12.5 assists per
game ranked in the top five in the Big
Ten.
"Linnea was about as close to being
the most improved player that we could
have and she was great," Giovanazzi
said. "She was more comfortable run-
ning the middle. She is a great defen-
sive player as well."
Michigan's big three might have been
the difference in the team's resurgence
but much of the Wolverines' success
came from the emergence of experi-
enced players as well as a deep bench.
"We knew it was really important (to
have a strong bench)," O'Donnell said.
"I think everyone had an important role
off the bench."
Two outside hitters battled injuries
this season but still had a positive im-
pact on the team's play.
Kristen Ruschiensky was one. Early
on in the season, the junior captured
MVP honors in the UMass Invitational,
helpingthe Wolverines to victories over
Massachusetts and Brown.
However, Ruschiensky went down
with a knee injury in mid-October, end-
ing her season. Although the Wolerines
were forced to go without one of their
top scorers, they were to get immediate

help from the bench.
"(Losing Ruschiensky) was a big loss
at the time," Giovanazzi said. "But it
wasn't long before we got Colleen
back."
The emergence of Colleen Miniuk
and Shareen Luze made the loss of
Ruschiensky a great deal easier to cope
with. Luze and Miniuk both struggled
through early season injuries but were
able to perform well upon their return.
The two juniors provided experience
as well as a great deal of versatility;
both were able to switch over to middle
blocker when needed.
Due to the Wolverines' depth and
talent, it was no surprise they were able
to maintain their high level of play
despite the injury problems.
"When someone gets injured, it's
really important to have people that can
step up," O'Donnell said. "We've been
really supportive. There are always
people who want to get in."
Michigan maintained a consistently
high level of play throughout the sea-
son. The team was able to equal its
entire 1994 season's win total in just
five matches. However, the best way to
characterize the campaign was that the
Wolverines won the matches they were
expected to win but not the one they
weren't.
The only time Michigan strayed from
this pattern was over a six- match stretch
in November. It was at this time that the
Wolverines captured wins over nation-
ally ranked foes Illinois and Penn State
but suffered bad losses to Indiana, Wis-

consin and Minnesota, three teams that
Michigan had beaten earlier in the sea-
son.
Those three losses were particularly
crucial in that they probably kept the
Wolverines from earning their first trip
to the NCAA Tournament. However,
the wins over the Lady Lions and Fight-
ing Illini, in addition to season-ending
wins over Northwestern and Purdue,
propelled the team to a spot in the
National Intercollegiate Volleyball
Championship.
The berth in the NIVC was
Michigan's second postseason tourna-
ment in the team's history and the first
since Giovanazzi took over in 1992.
At the NIVC, the Wolverines won
two out of four matches, defeating
Massachusetts and Arkansas. However,
Michigan fell to Butler and San Diego,
eliminating it from tournament conten-
tion.
With their performance in the Big
Ten and the NIVC, Michigan success-
fully established itself as a team to be
reckoned with not only in the confer-
ence level but on the national level as
well.
Although the impending graduation
of O'Donnell and Brownlee will leave
a void at the outside hitter and middle
blocker positions, the team's mix of
young and old players should provide a
strong nucleus for the future.
"We see ourselves as a very young
team (next year)," Giovanazzi said.
"(This year's) junior class will give us
a lot of depth."

ELIZABETH LIPPMAN/Daily
The Michigan volleyball team made it to the postseason for the second time ever.

Duncan, Camby to face off in battle of big men

The Associated Press
AMHERST, Mass. - Outstanding
matchups have been alpost common-
place this season, with highly ranked
teams facing each other a number of
times. And there's still 18 shopping
days until Christmas.
There was already a confrontation of
point guards when Georgetown sopho-
more Allen Iverson went against Geor-
gia Tech freshman Stephon Marbury
the day before Thanksgiving.
Tonight, there will be a rarity when
Tim Duncan and Marcus Camby go at it
in the low post in a clash of college
basketball's two best centers. By the
way, the game is No. 10 Wake Forest
vs. No. 3 Massachusetts.
"It should be agreatgame and agreat
atmosphere," said the 6-10 Duncan, a
native of the Virgin Islands who-many
felt would have been the NBA's No. 1
pick had he left Wake Forest after his
sophomore season.
"These are the types of games that
players enjoy being a part of."
Camby, an inch taller but 15 pounds
lighter than the 230-pound Duncan,

stayed closer to home, leaving Hart-
ford, Conn. for Massachusetts. Pro-
jected as a forward when he moves to
the NBA - which he also considered
in the offseason - Camby is still a
devastating defensive force with 103
blocks as a sophomore and his offen-
sive improvement has been impressive
in the early season.
"Tim has a variety of good low post
moves where I like to run the floor and
beat my man for easy baskets, play on
the perimeter more, be more of a
slasher," Camby said. "This game has
been hyped since the beginning of the
season. I want to play, play my hardest
and get it over with. After it, I'm not
going to look at how I did and how Tim
played. We just want to hit our stride
around tournament time."
The NCAA tournament is three
months away and all eyes right now are
on this game. The last true center
matchup like this was Patrick Ewing of
Georgetown and Hakeem Olajuwon of
Houston in the 1984 NCAA title game.
The last regular-season center confron-
tation of this magnitude was Dec. 11,

1982, when Ewing and Virginia's Ralph
Sampson met at the Capital Centre.
Wake Forest coach Dave Odom was
an assistant to Virginia coach Terry
Holland then.
"I would say it is extremely unfair to
both Tim and Marcus to compare them
as players to Ralph and Patrick and I
resist that at all costs," Odom said. "I
would suggest that this is a similar
event in that it is a game put together by
television and put together because two
teams have at this time the best-known
big men in the country. Notice I didn't
say best because they haven't proven to
be the best yet. But I would say this is
the most similar since that time."
The Ewing-Sampson matchup, won
by Virginia 68-63 with Sampson getting
23 points and 16 rebounds to Ewing's 16,
and eight, was syndicated nationally and
drewtremendousratings. Duncan-Camby
will be on ESPN and has been the talk of
the early season schedule.
"ESPN called and suggested the game,"
Massachusetts coach John Calipari said
when asked how the intersectional
matchup came about. "I said if Marcus

stays, yes. If Marcus leaves, no."
Camby stayed and that's why we'll
see the game and why the Minutemen
(3-0) are ranked third. He matched his
career-high with 32 points in the open-
ing win over Kentucky, Massachusetts'
third straight year beating a No. I team
in November.
He came up big down the stretch in a
defensive battle with then-No. 19 Mary-
land and had 30 points against Florida
to win MVP honors in the Franklin
National Bank Classic.
"I worked on my game this summer
and the team looks up to me for big
baskets," said Camby, who has been
most impressive with his drop step move
and turnaround jumper. "Seeing how
things have happened so fast and that
there are still 30 games left, I have been
impressed with myself so far."
While Massachusetts has played a
tough early schedule, Wake Forest (3-
0) has beaten Mount St. Mary's, Okla-
homa State and Lehigh. Duncan has
dominated in all three, looking most
impressive against the best of the three,
Oklahoma State.

MARKF -RItEMAN/Uaiy
The Wolverines were down, but not out, against the Tigers last night.

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SOLLENBERGER
Continued from Page 12
some offensive putbacks and 10
Ronnie Henderson points, the Tigers
led at the 9:20 mark, 22-12.
A year ago, the Wolverines would
have been done; they would have
packed it in and chalked it up to
inexperience.
Not this season.
Before you could say "ragin'
cajun" Michigan was back in the
game with a 13-0 run and a 25-22
lead.
From then on, the game was as
tight as could be - all the way up
until Bullock provided the winning
margin.
A couple of freshmen were heroes
for the Wolverines. Albert White
kept Michigan in control for most of
the second half with thunderous
dunks that drew ooos and aihhhs from
the crowd. He finished with a team-
high 14 points.
And then there was Bullock.
Overall, it was not the freshman's
best night as a Wolverine. He scored
12 points on just 4-of-12 shooting and
committed four turnovers. But when
you hit the winning shot, it cures a lot
of ills.
"Bullock showed a certain kind of
mental toughness for a freshman to
come back and make a big play down
the stretch," Fisher said. "That says a

lot about him."
How big a winwas this for the
Wolverines?
Try their biggest since ending
Indiana's 50-game home winning
streak last January.
And its impact on this season is
enormous.
Michigan's record through eight
games now stands at 6-2. A loss last
night would have dropped the
Wolverines to 5-3 with another defeat
right around the corner. Remember:
Duke comes to town Saturday. And in
recent matchups between the two
schools, it hasn't mattered where the
game was played or who has had the
better team.
The Blue Devils have always won.
But last night's win will give the
Wolverines some confidence as they
ready for the Dukies.
Michigan now also has a chance to
build an impressive record before the
start of the conference season. With
home games against the Blue Devils,
Washington and Cleveland State, and
two games against UNLV and
Davidson at the UNLV Holiday
Classic, the Wolverines could be 10-3
or 11-2 heading into the Big Ten
opener Jan. 3 at Wisconsin.
Noisy crowd and all, the Wolver-
ines pulled out their biggest win of
the young season last night. The
experience of winning a close one
away from home figures to help them
in other tight games down the road.

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I

HOOPS
Continued from Page 12
Despite the talent, the Tigers had 3.9
seconds to win after Bullock's shot.
Bullock knocked their first inbounds
pass out ofbounds. Then Traylor kicked
the second attempt out. Then Henderson
stepped out ofbounds driving past White

to give the Wolverines the ball and the
win.
"When (the referee) first blew the
whistle, I thought he called a foul,"
White said. "I didn't touch him; he tried
to force it around me."
Fisher said Mitchell will be out four
to six weeks; Traylor, who was injured
in the second half, had his foot x-rayed
after the game, but should be fine.

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