Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Continuing our preseason looks at Olympic sports, aka non-revenue, today we look at the #16 ranked* women's volleyball team. The volleyball team tips off on CBS College Sports later this week, as they face off in the Runza/AVCA Showcase, the premiere early season tournament in NCAA volleyball. Michigan opens with #3 Nebraska, who is virtually hosting event in one hour from campus in Omaha, NE, at 9:30pm (EDT). The second game for the Wolverines will be against #22 Kansas State on Saturday at 7pm (EDT), yet again on CBS College Sports. Tune in and cheer on your Wolverines. And yes, there is a hype video. And it is awesome.
If you're in the Omaha area, you can get tickets for individual matches for $16.50 (plus whatever surcharges ticketmaster adds on if you go that route), or $28 (again, possible extra ticketmaster charges) for a two day pass. And yes, they can charge that amount that close to Lincoln, where volleyball is almost as big as football.
The volleyball team became a varsity sport in 1973 as part of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), the women's sports association prior to the NCAA sanctioning women's sports. As the NCAA pretends AIAW and all it's statistics don't exist, Michigan volleyball's overall record is broken down into different categories. In the AIAW, Michigan compiled a record of 148-120-7 (.553) including games against 2 year schools and Canadian schools. Since joining the NCAA, Michigan has compiled a record of 412-417 (.497) against 4-year US schools only. If you throw in the smaller schools, Michigan has a 574-552-7 (.510) record.
Michigan has 11 post season appearances, including 9 NCAA tournaments in the last 12 seasons. Eight of those NCAA appearances came under the direction of current coach Mark Rosen(pictured below and right). Rosen is starting his 11th year at Michigan, which ties him with Sandy Vong (pictured above), Michigan's first ever volleyball coach, for the longest tenure among Michigan volleyball coaches. In Rosen's time, he's amassed a 189-132 (.589), but has never had a team finish higher than 5th in conference. Despite the conference record, Michigan has made it to the Sweet 16 in the past season the last two years.
The 2008 season was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Wolverines. They lost the Michigan all time leader in kills Katie Bruzdzinski, all time blocks leader Lyndsay Miller, and all time digs leader Stesha Selsky. That's some considerable loses. Despite the loss of such all time greats, Michigan also returned a few very strong players in setting Lexi Zimmerman, middle blocker Beth Karpiak, defensive specialist turned libero Kerry Hance, right side hitter Megan Bower, and outside hitter Veronica Rood. Karpiak was as dominant as they come out of the BigTen and Zimmerman came into the season as one of the conferences best setters.
Michigan would start the season hot with a 13-0 run including the BigTen opener at Ohio State. Things were going well – then, the reality of the BigTen season kicked in. Michigan went 12-8 over the conference season tied for the second highest in Wolverine BigTen history. In individual games, Michigan went 44-15 on the year, which is damn impressive. Michigan went 9-3 in matches going 3 sets, 11-6 in matches lasting 4 sets, and 0-3 in full five set matches. This was a big step forward in BigTen volleyball for program as Michigan finished 5th in conference.
Michigan ultimately went on to the NCAA tournament to upset Kentucky and Saint Louis to reach the Sweet 16 where they ran into perennial power Nebraska. Michigan finished the year 27-9, the best season record (by percentage) in the history of the program.
This Season's Players
The Wolverines only lose two players from last year's squad in Kerry Hance and Beth Karpiak. Expectations are high and rightfully so. Michigan returns the league's top setting Lexi Zimmerman. Zimmerman made the Honorable Mention list for All American as a freshman in 2007 and made the Second Team All American in 2008. She is the unsung star of the team. Her 2008 season saw her garner 11.37 assists, 1.37 kills and 2.65 digs per set. Her assist rate was second in the conference to only Penn State's Alisha Glass.
Zimmerman's two top targets will be outside hitter Juliana Paz and left side hitter Alex Hunt. Paz, a senior, lead the the team with 3.31 kills last year with some outstanding power in her hits. The native Brazilian also ranked second on the team in service aces last season with 33. Hunt is a left handed sophomore. As a freshman, she registered 243 kills, good for fourth on the team. Hunt was named to the Freshman All-BigTen team for her efforts and joined the US Junior National team.
On the right side, Megan Bower will be returning after finishing last season with 282 kills – third most on the team. Bower offers both power and a little bit of extra height at 6"-1' to help with blocking. Also returning on the right side is Cassie Petoskey. Petoskey is a native of Ann Arbor, going to Pioneer High School and comes from a long line of Michigan athletes. Her father lettered in wrestling, her grandfather in football, and her great uncle in 3 different sports. Even her brother plays for the lacrosse team. Cassie is as tough as they come, she even wrestled in middle school. She'll see more playing time this year than the last couple.
In the middle, the loss of Beth Karpiak is huge, but we have a couple good options returning. Red shirt sophomore Karlee Bruck really came on strong last year as the second middle blocker in Michigan's rotation. Last year, she finished with 13 solo blocks, second only to Karpiak, but she also lead the team with 90 block assists. Her hitting percentage was also pretty good at .278, but there is definitely room for improvement. Middle blockers generally have the highest hitting percentages on the team as they are generally a misdirection play.
Also rotating into the middle this year will be Veronica Rood. Rood is a converted outside hitter. As a junior, she didn't see that much time on the court, but her height at 6-1 should give her a little bit of an edge on blocking. I also wouldn't be surprised to see her being a bit more of a free swinger in the middle as compared to Bruck.
In the back court, Michigan returns Sloane Donhoff and Maggie Busch. Donhoff will be making the move to libero to start the season. Last year, as a freshman, Sloane was immediately put into a position to become the primary defensive specialist on the team. She finished the year with 321 digs, tied for third most on the team. Donhoff was also a very productive server, knocking in 43 service aces, the most on the team and second most in the BigTen. Busch, a junior, saw time in 120 different sets last season, but never for very long. She registered only 42 digs and 28 service aces over the whole season.
Michigan faces a tough schedule right out of the gate this year. Michigan faces the #3 and #22 teams in the nation this weekend in the American Volleyball Coaches Association tournament in Omaha, NE. This will be the eighth time in fifteen years that Michigan opens with a top 15 opponent. In all, Michigan will play 6 different teams ranked in the AVCA preseason poll and another three also receiving votes.
After the first weekend, the rest of Michigan's non-conference schedule shouldn't be too difficult. Tennessee is the biggest name on the list, but they are only in the receiving votes category of the current preseason poll. Heading into BigTen play, one would expect Michigan to have at least a 10-3 record, but even that might be a slight disappointment.
The conference season will be a bit tougher. The BigTen is a big volleyball conference. Penn State is the obvious favorite as they have not lost a game since September of 2007. They also return 4 All Americans and 10 letter winners. Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota are also projected to be strong this year. Michigan has not won a game in Madison, WI in over 16 years. Even Michigan State has a strong team.
Looking at the schedule, I think Michigan could start the BigTen season 4-4. Each week has one very winnable game and one that could be extremely tough. In Michigan's favor, though, is the 4 game home stand from November 13th to November 20th. This stretch will help Michigan lessen any possible gaps that may form in the standings, setting up a season finale with Penn State that could potentially mean something. That might be a pretty lofty goal (challenging Penn State for the conference title), but it's not totally out of the idea either.
If you haven't been out to Cliff Keen Arena for a volleyball game, you are really missing out. Volleyball has some of the loudest and most loyal fans at the university, averaging just over 900 per match. Even the old blue hairs get up and cheer on the maize and blue. Just ask anyone about the super old guy that used to always be in the front row dancing along. I'm not sure if he makes it out to every game, but he was always one of my favorite UM personalities. Even "The Zone" is one of the strongest student sections on campus. It's its own mini-Maize Rage.
As mentioned, the team starts the season off against Nebraska in Nebraska's own back yard. The tournament is being hosted in Omaha, NE, just over an hour from Lincoln and the University of Nebraska. The CornHuskers take volleyball very seriously and will easily fill up 15,000 seats or more. The crowd will be hostile, but Michigan will be hoping to do the same thing they did to #10 Hawaii in 2007 by going up early and taking the crowd out of the game. A win over Nebraska isn't very likely, but if it would, it would be one heck of a statement to start the year. The game against Kansas State on Saturday will be a much bigger litmus test on just how ready this team is to compete past the Sweet 16 this year. If the Wolverines handle KSU, they will be serious contenders not only for the BigTen conference, but in the NCAA as well.
And behold, I saw another rider on a blue horse, and his name was
Brian, and he unleashed unverified voracity upon a third of the earth."
This is the fourteenth entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the new MGoBlogStore.
I've been working on a general MGoBlog shirt since the very beginning, and have had varying degrees of success. This single design pretty much sums up my experience with this project altogether-- it's just really really hard to please a large group of people. Everyone has different expectations, and it's inevitable that nothing can make everyone happy. Even more so, trying to consciously please a specific portion of the crowd means that another portion of the group feels ignored or rejected.
MGoBlog itself means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and trying to put together an identity for it is a delicate and near-impossible act of trying to please as many people while alienating as few as possible. I tried several different approaches. I branched one off of the logo I created for this contest itself, and some people rejected it, which is their right (I have no right to tell someone not to react to my art a certain way). I listened to many people asking for a logo based on the MGoPoints arrows, which several people then disagreed with. I even played around with the menu bar icon as a logo, but nothing really seemed right.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAIL
So in the end, I went back to the source, and created this shirt from Brian's own avatar. And no, that doesn't mean Brian's creating his own 3-D IMAX CGI sci-fi space opera about ten-foot tall blue aliens-- Although BOY would I love to see THAT opus of sarcasm. No, this design is his own profile image, tweaked a bit for single color reproduction. There might be some licensing issues but it's really not a true block M, so I'm hoping this isn't a big deal, but if need be we can jump this hurdle when the time comes.
I'd like to think of this shirt as a celebration of the mythical half-man, half-hair creature that makes this place possible. Here's to Brian! HUZZAH!!
Time to vote. What do you guys think?
|pollcode.com free polls|
|What do you think of MgoShirt #14?|
|Five Stars Four Stars Three Stars Two Stars One Star|
***** Five Stars: Avatar will be the greatest cinematic moment since Strange Brew.
**** Four Stars: Avatar will be a kick ass sci-fi movie, but will re-invent nothing.
*** Three Stars: Pretty cool-- but there's no zombies, or Megan Fox. Fail.
** Two Stars: The plot seems slow, tedious. I'll stay home and read instead.
* One Star: Avatar will suck. Movies are for losers who can't afford an XBox.
As I discussed earlier today, Brian and I decided to switch things up a bit-- we're showcasing two designs today so that the initial 15 shirts can be wrapped up tomorrow. THEN, on Friday, you can look forward to the final MGOSHIRT ALERT DEATHMATCH ELIMINATION ROUND, where the top 4 shirts as voted by the MGoCommunity will be voted on again to decide which design will make its way into the MGoBlogStore. Voting begins Friday, with the final tally being taken on Sunday night.
Tomorrow will then mark the fifteenth and last entry in this shirt design project... It's time for this designer to stop being so damn productive so I can properly engage myself in the upcoming season. So look tomorrow for the final preliminary edition of-- MGoShirt Alert!
PS - NO, I will not unveil the OSU shirt, at least not for now. Perhaps I'll keep it until a very bitter loss has us all in the dumps, and not even Brian's damn kittens can make anyone smile. Perhaps then, my offensive apparel will... That is all.
Speculation ranges from added band participation to full blown RAWK music being pumped into the stadium, a la Wisconsin and Michigan State.
This, I fear.
Not sure if any of you follow Michigan Football on Facebook but yesterday they posted a video to "fire you up" before the start of the season. Set to the dulcet tones of AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock," the video showed clips from throughout Michigan's football history. (Sadly, there were not many from 2008.)
It's actually a great video and it DID fire me up even more -- seeing Desmond talk about "Should I do the pose? Should I not do it? ... F*** it" was interesting and the video, for what it was, was well done.
I am really just hoping this isn't the kind of thing they start blasting before or during games. Living in DC, I only made it up to one game last year and don't remember if this is something that is already happening, so if it is I apologize for my lack of awareness.
"The guerrilla fighter needs full help from the people
of the area. This is an indispensable condition."
--Ernesto Che Guevara
This is the thirteenth entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the new MGoBlogStore.
Last night, pretty much by accident, I produced the single best t-shirt design of the entire series. And of course, I immediately knew it was a foregone conclusion that this shirt could never see the light of day, for fear of legitimate legal action from the entire state of Ohio. The kind of shirt that, in the case you were caught wearing it in Columbus, would find your corpse dragged through the streets. By six-year olds. Who would later be acquitted for their acts and instead hailed as patriots. And given the keys to the city. By Jim Tressel.
So instead, I'll give you this shirt, originally submitted during the Harmon shirt post by our friend MCalibur:
Che Guevara and Rich Rodriguez have a lot in common. Both came from humble beginnings. Both became well-educated and powerful motivators of people. Both had a son named Rhett and a super-blond wife named Rita.
Okay, maybe not the last bit, but there are certainly similarities. Let's hope they stop there-- I doubt that Coach Rod wishes to be executed by the Bolivian government and strapped to the skids of a helicopter like a hunter's trophy.
Time to vote. What do you guys think?
|pollcode.com free polls|
|What do you think of MgoShirt #13?|
|Five Stars Four Stars Three Stars Two Stars One Star|
***** Five Stars: Coach Rod is the single best head coach we've ever had.
**** Four Stars: Great guy-- but no one holds a candle to Bo.
*** Three Stars: I'd put him just behind Fritz Crisler in the pecking order.
** Two Stars: Bump Elliot deserves more praise than this Rodriguez guy.
* One Star: Ack-- I'm registering a firecoachrod.com URL as we speak.
VOTING UPDATE: We're proud to announce that we're moving up the final voting to Friday, so you'll be able to vote on the MGoShirt finalists over the entire weekend-- and the winning design will be officially rolled out on Monday. With that being said, I originally said we'd do 15 shirts-- I still can, but I'd have to run another vote later in the day either today or tomorrow. Is that cool with all of you, or should we just go with fourteen shirts and be done with it? Talk to me MGoBlog...
Either way, tomorrow I'm going to be rolling out some very specific artwork that I probably enjoyed creating more than any other design. See you then for the final editions of MGoShirt Alert!
concomitantly makes it an achilles heal because the vitality of the team is dependent on the QB. How do you remedy the situation? Well, you have to go against the popular dogma that if u have two QBs, you don't have one. A spread coach MUST then prepare and play two QBs...thus it isn't a season ender or loss if one of the QBs goes out. This is where I think RR is ahead of the pack. Having both Tate and Denard playing at the same time is a bonus not a liability. He wants both to play throughout the season and for the coming years. Losing to PITT cost him a chance to go to the big game. Just imagine what would happen to Florida if Tebow broke his leg. I guarantee you they would no longer be the favorite to win the SEC or title. Imagine a Michigan team with two QBs perfectly capable of running the offense, with experience, and different strengths. The added bonus is that defensive coordinators have to prepare for two distinct QBs running the offense. I think as M fans we need to realize that the days of the statue QB who is protected at all costs has been replaced with dynamic QBs that are asked to run and who can be replaced if need be. The higher risk to the QB in a spread needs to be offset somehow. That is the lesson learned by RR. The only way to offset that risk is to have more than one QB ready to take the reigns that way if one goes down, the team doesn't miss a beat. What do you guys think?
Based on that success, many predict great things for MSU football.Behind the awesome aeronautical show put on by Kirk "Kissin" Cousins and Keith "Can you spare a brotha a" Nichol and the famously fiercesome Spartan defense, MSU will once again have the privilege of being some SEC's team warmup for spring practice on the 1st of January.
Alas, the numbers paint a different portrait. MSU--a power running team--gained 1692 yards on 511 carries for a not-so-impressive 3.3 ypc. MSU averaged 130.2 per game with the departed Jevon Ringer accounting for about 90% of that.
Conversely, the illustrious Spartan defense gave up 1852 yards on 450 carries for a healthly(for the opposing offense)4.1 average. MSU gave up 142.5 yards per game on the ground.A defense that gives up 4 yards per carry? Duffy would spin in his grave over such numbers!
In terms of pass defense/offense, MSU fares better. Statistically, the Spartans and their opponents were awash. MSU averaged 213.2 per game whereas they gave up 213.4. Still, giving up 213 yards per game through the air is not all that impressive, especially when you considered how much yardage the Spartans gave up on the ground.
In terms of total yardage, the Spartans were actually OUTGAINED by their opponents,355.8 to 343.5. This accomplished in one of the weakest years in Big Ten history and the likes of EMU, Florida Atlantic, and a Charlie Weis coached Notre Dame team.
It really is remarkable to see how much hype a team that was outgained by its opponents in what was a terrible year for the Big Ten, is receiving. Apparently, no one watched any of MSU's games because they were every bit as average as the numbers indicate. That is hardly a surprise because Mark Dantonio was average at Cincinnati as well.
His record at Cincinnati was an astounding 18-17! Simply awesome!(tongue planted firmly in cheek)
Sam the Eag...Er, I mean Mark Dantonio has accomplished a whole lotta mediocrity in his coaching career. In his 5 seasons as a HC coach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Dantonio Dantonio has yet to lose less than 4 games in a season,He has lost 5, 7,5,6, and 4. He has lost 5 or more in 4 of those seasons. Yet, we are lead to believe that this is the man who will lift MSU to heights it hasn't seen since the heydey of George Webster and Bubba Smith.
Perhaps MSU will finally, FINALLY, take that step from perennial also ran to legitimate Big Ten title contender. Perhaps, but not likely. I have a hard time seeing a man who openly mocks a student athlete and the dominant program instate as being the guy to lift MSU from its 40 year doldrums.Little from his past as a head coach, indicates that MSU will be anything more than the 4-5-6-7th best team in the conference.