maybe i should have had greg howard write the brandon obit.
The #13 seed Michigan defeated #4 seed Stanford tonight in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Volleyball tournament. Michigan won in 4 sets by scores 25-18, 23-25, 25-22, and 25-11. Michigan came out with their highest focus level all season and it showed.
In set one, Michigan's big players, Alex Hunt, Juliana Paz, Veronica Rood, and Lexi Zimmerman all came out on fire. Michigan registered only one hitting error with a hitting percentage of almost .535. Hitting percentages are like batting averages in baseball. A .333 percentage is very good. .535 is unreal. We did it.
We had balance on offense. Hunt was surgical on the outside. She cut blocks right and left. Paz was powerful, blowing through blocks for kills. Veronica Rood got the attention from Lexi that she should, providing a distraction for the Stanford blockers, opening up the outside. Lexi was perfect on the set, but she was also a force on the block. The first set was only close because Michigan was pushing hard on the serve, leading to 4 extra Stanford points.
In the second set, Michigan jumped out to an early lead of 5-2, but Stanford came back to tie the game at 8. Stanford got their block going, especially on Hunt, but Michigan managed to slowly cut the lead down and even tie the game at 23. Down 23-24, Michigan let a serve by that looked to be out. It was ruled to have landed on the line and Michigan lost the set. The call was close, and that play ended up being the difference.
Set three saw Michigan return to dominating. Michigan had two different 7 point leads in the set, mainly thanks to a couple of runs by Rood and Hunt. Stanford managed to bring the game back to a one point Michigan lead at 20-19, but when Rood rotated back into the front, it was set over. Michigan pulled away and won.
Set four was all Michigan. Stanford's wheels began to fall off as they had back to back serve receive errors against both Paz and Donhoff. They never really got "in system", meaning they never were able to get into a normal bump-set-spike rhythm. Michigan steam rolled over the Cardinal to open the set 16-3. From that point, Michigan traded off points to the final 25-11 score.
- Lexi Zimmerman was great all night. Her sets were crisp and clean. Her blocks were timely and huge (I think she had more than the 2 assist listed in the gametracker). She did a great job of mixing the sets. She incorporated everyone in the game plan and didn't force too many 2's (quick hits by the setter instead of actually setting the ball to another player). Lexi has forced a lot of 2's lately, and today she definitely let Rood/Bower be the change of pace attacks.
- Alex Hunt's hitting from the left side won the match for Michigan. In the first and third sets, she was splitting blocks, pinpointing her hits to go off the block, and just smashing the ball. Her 18 kills lead the team
- Juliana Paz had a great night with 15 kills, 3 service aces, and a solo block. Despite these numbers, Paz really wasn't a huge part of the game. Her .250 hitting percentage was lowest of the major contributors, and might have overshadowed just how good she played. The two service errors also looked pretty bad, but those happen.
- Veronica Rood needs to be cloned. With middle blockers, you almost always have two of them in your rotation at any time. This way, you have one in the front at all times (the other is usually subbed out by the libero). When Rood is in the game, Michigan can't be stopped offensively. Rood's blocking on the season isn't quite as impressive as most other middle blockers in the BigTen, but her offense is top of the line. Her quick hits (zero sets) and her slide/cutting hits when she moves to her right then hits are money every time.
- Megan Bower, like Paz, had a quiet set of kills as well. Bower totaled 9 on 17 attempts for a .471, but her bigger contribution was a change of pace in set 3. After Stanford really started to key in on Hunt and Paz, and with Rood subbed out on the back row, Bower had a strong kill from the opposite side that helped get Rood back into the front row quicker. That was a big swing in the game.
- Karlee Bruck really struggled in this game. She had 3 kills and 3 hitting errors in 15 attempts for a .000 percentage. She seemed a bit slow to the block (but registered 2 block assists) and was also off on her attacks. She did do really well on a couple of one-on-one plays at the net where the ball came down up for grabs.
- Sloane Donhoff and Maggie Busch both played excellent defense today and contributed quite a bit at the line. Donhoff had 4 service aces (2 errors) and Busch had an ace (1 error) from the serving line.
With the win, Michigan advances to the Elite Eight and will play the Hawaii Wahine tomorrow night (11:30pm ET) in Palo Alto. Earlier today, the Wahine defeated an Illinois team that finished ahead of Michigan in the BigTen. Illinois looked flat, but Hawaii did what they were supposed to do and didn't make errors.
Hawaii appears to be a team very much like Michigan in that they are aggressive, focus on their serving game, and rely on a pair of hitters. This should be a really good, really tight game. Hawaii is a power program in the WAC, comparable to Boise State in football, but with a much longer track record of success in the NCAA tournament.
I'll update this with media information as I get it. I think the game will be streamed again, but I'm not sure.
Go Blue, Beat the Wahine.
I love that there was already a "Stanford Sucks" tag.
Recent blogpost: NCAA Tourney Preview
I'm not one for rehashing press releases, but this information is timely and would be lost in a second on the board. Per mgoblue:
Positioned in the Stanford regional, the Wolverines (24-9 overall) will face Niagara in first-round action on Friday (Dec. 4) at 7:30 p.m.[…]
The U-M/NU winner will face the winner of the OU/UND match in second-round action Saturday (Dec. 5) at 7:30 p.m.
Volleyball season ticket holders can purchase tickets beginning Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 8:30 a.m. by calling the U-M Ticket Office. Tickets will be available to the public by phone, internet and in person at the U-M Ticket Office beginning Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m. Seating is general admission. All tickets will be held at will call. Advanced sales are all-session tickets only. Single-Session tickets must be purchased at the door. Doors open one hour prior to the event.
Everyone (except children under two) must have a ticket. The first 500 U-M students with a valid Mcard will be admitted free and must pick up a ticket at the arena by 7:30 p.m. Faculty and staff are NOT admitted free with Mcards for postseason events.
All-Session tickets are priced at $10 for an adult, $6 for seniors and students, and $4 for children 3-12 (children two years and under free with paid adult). Single-Session tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $4 for children 3-12 (children two years and under free with paid adult).
Emphasis mine. There is a good chance that all the full session seats will sell out in the first few hours.
Notre Dame will play Ohio at 5:30pm on Friday, and their game should end before Michigan takes the court. I've got an email into the volleyball SID to ask about how many single session tickets will be reserved and if they (single session tickets for Michigan/Niagara) will be available an hour before the ND/Ohio game or an hour before our game, and I'll update here when I hear back.
As for you students, there's a good chance the 500 may go quickly. I suggest getting there a little early if you want to get in for free.
Hansborough v. Griffin. Who ya got? and whats the spread on "Blake and Taylor Griffin are brothers" comments vs. "Tyler Hansborough plays really hard"?
and which one has the advantage in the "makes you want to punch them in the face with their stupid 'and one' facial expressions"?
I think I might have to take this one in on the radio.
I don't recall seeing any University PSA's during the NCAA games last week. Have they ever done them? Is CBS able to dictate there will be none because it cuts into their ad revenue?
Re: PSA's, it still is impossible to beat Michigan in Space, although I did like the jazzed up "Hail" a year ago. I also kinda liked USC's famous alumni PSA's. As much as I hate ND, I thought their "fighting Irish" PSA with the doctor fighting disease wasn't bad.
Has James Earl Jones ever narrated a PSA for his alma mater? In a way, I'd like to have several PSA's around a theme that have very short clips of famous alums in that field, with Jones narrating all of them. James Earl Jones and Lucy Liu and Gilda Radner in one, Griese and Harbaugh and Brady in another, Harmon and Howard and Woodson in another, Fadell (iPod), Bloch (H&R Block), Page (Google), and Walgreen (Walgreens) in another, Dierdorf, Guisewaite, and Wallace in another.
Regardless, I don't like the same lame cute, diverse student body PSA's with test tubes and the main diag and a lecture and a lab. Too many schools do this.
Lastly, PSA's will be tainted for me for many years by Brian's pre-mocking of Appalachian State with "Hot, Hot, Hot." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVENWl8uBeg. While I'm not superstitious (re: Liveblogs,) this mocking came back to bite us in the butt.
So as you may know, Michigan has seemed to play considerably better when they have a good amount of time to rest. But how much better? I decided to take a look at the games Michigan played this year and their record based on time between games. Here is what I came up with:
A few notes on terms that should be pretty obvious for the most part, but just making sure everyone understands:
1 Day Since Last Game would mean that they played a game the day before.
(N) means Neutral Site
I think you can figure out the rest.
From this, there seems to be a pretty strong correlation between the amount of rest/time to prepare the team gets and how well they do. 9-0 when we have 5+ days since the previous game, 16-2 when it is 4+ days? That's a stat that I'm pretty happy with. However, it's worth noting that, with a few exceptions (e.g. UCLA, Illinois, Purdue), the majority of our more difficult games took place 3 days or fewer since the previous game.
As a side note:
Despite 18 (55%) of our games being played with 4+ days since the previous game, only 10 (45%) of our games vs top 100 RPI were played with 4+ days since the previous game. Granted, that's only two games that would have a longer time since the previous game if it followed the same percentage, but that seems like it could have had an impact.
Overall, this seems to bode well for us when we face Clemson. Not so much if we go on to face Oklahoma.
For what it's worth, Clemson's losses were:
Wake Forest - 7 days since last game
UNC - 4 days since last game
FSU - 3 days since last game
Viriginia - 5 days since last game
Virginia Tech - 3 days since last game
FSU - 3 days since last game
Wake Forest - 5 days since last game
Georgia Tech - 4 days since last game
While I am always on the fence about being interested or taking national attention as an utmost important thing to tell my diary about at night ("Omg but then we had meatloaf for lunch again bleh") but when Michigan is not getting hit in the head by a chair thrown by Bob Knight, who apparently believes PSU and Auburn were more deserving, they're getting ESPN praise in the form of... Colin Cowherd?
Michigan was chosen by Cowherd as his dark horse (or is it darkhorse?) for the tournament. Besides the normal Duke, UCLA, Purdue fluff, he was quick to point out UM could have beaten UConn, a 1-seed, and that he could legitimately see them making it to the elite eight. What was nice to hear, though, was him acknowledge the coaching behind the effort.
What does this mean? Absolute shit. The man is a walking "morning talk show radio zoo OHMANELISHADUSHKUISTHEHAWTEST *cue spring boi-oi-oing*" - complete with "Breakfast of Champions - which cereal will win" bracket - but he's also been a huge d-bag to the football program. A reader was quick to point out his dark horse (darkhorse?) - fuck it, I'm referring to it as Darko from now on - has always played Clemson for the past couple years. Let's just say that's true.
The question remains: even if we are everyone's Darko, does it make noise in the Palace when we miss all our shots and lose by 15?
Because that's what a Darko does. Let's be
The Answer Billups.