...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
It's BigTen season opener weekend across the Michigan sports world this weekend. Not only is football opening conference play, but volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer, and field hockey do as well. Men's and Women's golf are also in action, with the men hosting and the Women on the road at Wisconsin.
Chronologically by first game:
Record: 2-6 (33rd in Coaches Poll as other receiving votes, 18 out of 79 in RPI)
- Friday 3pm – vs. Iowa (tape delay on BTN*)
- Sunday 1pm – vs. Penn State
After suffering two heartbreaking losses in overtime last weekend, Michigan faces an 24th ranked (others receiving vote section, 23rd in RPI) Iowa team that is performing well under their expected level. At 2-5, the BigTen Champions of the last three years in a row are struggling this season. The Hawkeyes are coming off an impressive 12-0 victory over Saint Louis, but they have been less than impressive during the rest of the year, going just 2-1 against unranked teams.
As for Michigan against Iowa, if they want to compare common opponents to the Hawkeyes, this weekend could end up going well. Michigan lost 1-2 to UNC and Wake Forest in the ACC/Big10 challenge while Iowa lost 2-3 and 0-5 respectively.
Penn State enters the weekend at 2-7. The Nittany Lions are winless away from State College, but they come in at 28th in the RPI and 29th in the Coaches poll. Penn State isn't a big goal scoring team, with just 10 goals in 9 games, five of which came in a rout of West Chester.
*The game will be broadcast on Sunday 9/27 at 6pm ET. I'm not sure if I can catch it, so if anyone wants to MGoVideo it for me, many praises to you
Record: 12-1 (#8 in Coaches Poll)
- Friday 7pm @ Indiana
- Saturday 7pm @ Purdue (#30 in Coaches Poll in other receiving votes)
After suffering the first loss of the season last weekend, Michigan looks to get back on another winning streak as they open BigTen play with Indiana and Purdue. Indiana is pretty weak again this year. Michigan has taken 5 straight matches from the Hoosiers and looks to make it 6.
Purdue is right on the edge of making the top 25. Michigan hasn't had too much recent success with the Boilermakers over the last few years, including a split last year, each team winning the home game. Michigan lost at West Lafayette last year despite a 2-0 set lead. Dare I say vintage Michigan over the last few years; so close to winning, but couldn't put it away.
This weekend is the last trip through Indiana for senior captain Megan Bower. The Indianapolis native hopes this trip will be a special one. She was on mgoblue.com this week for a player live chat, and while there she confirmed that the team has rebounded from the loss:
I think we were really looking forward to getting back into the gym and improving... we are really excited to get back out there this weekend. […]
You learn from every match ... obviously we would love to learn from wins rather than losses, but we definitely are fired up to start Big Ten play this weekend. We have been waiting for the start of conference play and we are focused on Indiana and Purdue
She also touched on quite a few other topics of interest, such as her thoughts on the Zone, the coaches, and her future as a coach. All interesting and worth the read through.
- 2009 Wolverine at Radick Farms, Ann Arbor, MI (Sat-Sun)
Along with Michigan, thirteen other teams (alphabetically: Arkansas, Baylor, Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (NTM), Minnesota, Purdue, St. John's, Toledo, Wisconsin and Xavier) descend on Ann Arbor this weekend. The course at Radick Farms is a par 72 at 6,979 yards.
This will be Michigan's only hosted tournament of the year, and sadly, it won't be at their true home course. With the football game against Indiana this year, the game was moved to Radick Farms. Michigan will be in group one with Arkansas and Baylor for the first 36 holes.
I'm hoping to see another great round by Matt Thompson who posted three sub-70 rounds in a row last tournament. His eight under 205 on the weekend was Michigan's second best round of 54 holes ever.
Women Lady's Golf
Rank: T-46 (others receiving votes)
- 2009 Lady Northern Invitational at University Ridge,Madison, WI (Sun-Mon)
The Lady Northern Invitational a par 72, 6,246 yard tournament featuring all 11 BigTen teams and four non-conference opponents (College of Charleston, Iowa State, Georgia and SMU).
Senior Ashley Bauer is the leader for the Wolverines. In her 37 consecutive tournaments played, she's finished in the top 20 a total of 21 times, including 14 in the top 10.
Record: 5-5-0 (unranked)
- Sunday 1pm @ #21 Ohio State
This game should be interesting to say the least. Last year, Michigan gave the Buckeyes their only conference defeat on the season in a 2-0 shut out. That was one of only 4 Michigan victories on the year. The Buckeyes will be looking to get revenge at home this year.
Speaking of that win total from last year, the team has already surpassed that total this year, huzzah!
Other things to keep your eye on include
- Haley Kopemeyer is riding a 188 minute, 15 second shut out streak.
- Holly Hein, who's three goals this season are all game winners
- Jackie Carron, who has more assists already this season than any one has had since 2006. Let me repeat that for clarity: Carron has 6 assists in 10 games this season. No one's had that many in a whole season (19-22 games) since 2006. Wow. One more will tie her for 8th on the Michigan single season assist lead.
Record: 7-1-0 (#21 in Coaches Poll)
- Sunday 2pm @ Penn State
After a break out second half to down
Oakland Bowling Green, including the final two goals in a natural hat trick by Justin Meram, by a score 5-1, Michigan will look to open BigTen play with a win on the road.
Penn State is having a tough season at just 4-3-1, and their goalie played despite having a minor injury last week. The way Michigan has been playing on this 7 game win streak, a win looks very possible.
Michigan split the
season series last year last two meetings with the Nittany Lions, each team winning their home match. PSU is 3-0-1 at home this season.
As per usual, I'll be updating the action in this space throughout the weekend.
Update I (Friday 9:55pm):
Field hockey lost 2-3 in their opener. Meredith Way and Bryn Bain each netted a goal in the first half to stay tied with 5 goals a piece on the season. Michigan took those two goals and a first half shut out all the way to the half. Early in the second half, Iowa struck back with a pair of goals on the power play (Michigan was down 2 players due to yellow cards). Iowa took the lead with just 5 minutes remaining, and junior Alicia Mayer had a chance to tie in the final two minutes on a one-on-one break away that sailed wide right.
When asked about dropping the third straight one goal game, Meredith Way told MGoBlue.com:
We've got to take something away from every game and this one is no different. We were down [a player] most of the game, but we played hard. We can't get down about it. We've got to come out fired up when Penn State comes to town Sunday.
The game will be on BTN on Sunday at 6pm ET. Give it a watch.
In Bloomington, the volleyball team got their biggest road test yet this season. Michigan prevailed pretty easily, winning 26-17, 25-16, and 25-23. First place in the BigTen, baby! 1-0.
While listening to the game you could definitely tell Michigan had a philosophy of spreading the attacks. After last week where the team wasn't balanced against Oregon State, today was exactly opposite. Courtney Fletcher set a new high of 11 kills out of the middle. Her play opened up the sides for Juliana and Alex, who both ended with double digits as well. Fletcher also posted a team high 2 aces on the night.
Michigan was blocked a total of 7 times, which is a bit concerning, but that's going to happen with our lack of size. I'm hoping if our middles can keep up the great play, that number will go down.
What was encouraging though is that Michigan was being pressured in that third set, coming from behind to take it and then following through. Last year, this was the type of set Michigan would have dropped, ultimately leading to a 5 set loss (see @Purdue and @Wisconsin last year). Tonight, they finished the game. That's a big step forward as we hit the toughest part of the season. On to Purdue on Sunday.
Note: This may be a bit short to start. I've got an chat with BigTenNetwork President Mark Silverman in a little over an hour and I'm trying to get prepared for that. Also, if you haven't given a listen to the podcast with Coach Rosen, do it.
- Friday 1pm vs. Marquette
- Friday 7:30pm vs. Dayton
- Saturday 3:30pm vs Oregon State (@ Crisler)
As previously stated, this is a big weekend for #6 Michigan. Michigan is hosting the Michigan/Adidas Invitational featuring games against undefeated Dayton, 9-2 Marquette, and Oregon State (at Crisler Arena). This will be the last big gut check before we head into BigTen play. All three of these games will be tough.
- Friday 1pm Women's Spartan Invitational @ MSU
The women will be sending 11 to Michigan State's Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing for a 6 km race. Jenny Morgan and Danielle Tauro are your projected Michigan leaders. From Coach McGuire:
This race is kind of a building block. Michigan State is in the same boat as us -- they're young, but they have a good quality of depth. So, it will be a good benchmark for where we stand against them and likewise where they are compared to us.
With all of the stuff that's been happening, I sadly couldn't keep up with individual team previews. The men's tennis team is in Napa Valley, St. Helena, CA to be more specific, this weekend. They will be competing in a non-scoring match against Cal-Berkeley, Harvard, and Ole Miss. One of these schools is not like the others.
If you're that interested, the tournament is available at http://www.radiotennis.com/.
The rowing team kicks off their season tomorrow against Michigan State in Belleville, MI. I know nothing more than this.
- Saturday 2pm vs #7 Syracuse @ Louisville, KY
- Sunday 1pm @ #16 Louisville
Michigan is 2-4 this season, but their strength of schedule has to be in the top 3 in the nation. Michigan has played a #1, #2, #4, and #5, accounting for all 4 losses on the season. Michigan will look to gain it's first win over a ranked opponent in Louisville this weekend.
Syracuse will be tough. The Orange has already defeated two top 10 opponents, Old Dominion and Michigan State. They are 5-1 and have a wide array of potential goal scorers.
Louisville is definitely a better chance for the W as Louisville hasn't been tested this season. While they are ranked in the top 20, they are only 9 positions ahead of Michigan. I think this game could be very winnable for Michigan. I'm looking to see Bryn Bain continue her 4 game goal streak with a big outburst here.
- Saturday 2pm @Western Michigan
The men have one game this weekend against the Broncos. Western is winless on the season, so Michigan should be able to handle them easily.
- Sunday 2pm vs Miami (FL)
The women have their last tune up before the BigTen conference slate starts against that Miami. The Hurricanes do have a win over a ranked opponent in then #22 Washington, but that hasn't gotten Miami on the rankings others receiving votes. A couple of really bad losses have kept them out of contention. This should be a really good game between a pair of evenly matched teams.
I'll be updating things throughout the weekend, so check back occasionally.
Update I (Friday 9:30pm):
At the women's cross country meet, Michigan's Danielle Tauro placed second with a time of 21 minutes 19 seconds. Kaitlyn Peale (21:47) and Kaitlyn Patterson (21:56) also finished in the top 10 at 7th and 9th respectively. This was a non-scoring match, so there were no team scores.
On the volleyball court, Michigan won a pair of matches, one on cruise control and one in the most exciting 3 set match ever. In the early game, Michigan faced Marquette and just rolled past the Tigers by scores 25-16, 25-19, and 25-. The team was lead by Alex Hunt's record breaking 9(!) service aces on the match. The 9 broke the previous record set in 2004 by Katie Bruzdzindski and matched by Juliana Paz 6 days ago. (Hunt pictured to right by Mogblue.com)
Also notable in this match was Veronica Rood with a team leading 9 kills. Coach Rosen appears to be making the point to get Vern more looks this weekend. Halfway through the 2nd set, Rosen called a time out to reinforce the Rood option with setter Lexi Zimmerman. Rood went on to score 2 of the next three points easily.
Also notable was the defense. Marquette hit only .027. That's bad. The Tigers had only 21 kills on 73 attempts (only 19 errors). Bower and Hunt had a great set of games with 8 digs a piece. Both also had a solo block, Bower adding three block assists.
In the night cap, Michigan faced their closest game since the AVCA challenge. The undefeated Dayton Flyers brought their A-game and kept the pressure on Michigan the entire match. The first set, Michigan jumped out to an 11-5 lead, only to see it evaporate into a 18-19 deficit. Down 22-24 and facing set point, Michigan rallied with a couple kills from Juliana Paz and an Alex Hunt service ace. Michigan would secure the 28-26 first set lead with a Paz ace.
In set two, Michigan would fall behind early. They were down as many as 5 at 5-10. But the team fought back, eventually tying the game at 19. They would have to rally again to tie the game at 23. The next point would be Michigan's first lead of the set. Michigan would capitalize on a Rood kill and a combined Rood/Zimmerman block to take set two 26-24.
The final set was just as intense. It featured 11 ties, 5 lead changes, and more extra points. In the closing points, Michigan held a 23-21 lead. Then things got fun. With Dayton attacking, a ball hit the top of the net and looked to be falling back for a Michigan point. All of a sudden, the net snaps and the ball falls to Michigan's side. Megan Bower made her case, earning a yellow card, that it was caused by a net violation by Dayton. Both coaches were getting on the refs, and both ended the game with yellow cards. Michigan would lose the lead, going down 24-23.
Down 25-26, Lexi (pictured right by MGoBlue.com) made an attack on two (instead of setting) to give Michigan a tie. Juliana Paz gave the Wolverines the go ahead kill, and Lexi Zimmerman made the attack on two again for the win.
Paz was your kill leader with 18 in the late game at a .448 hitting percentage, but Rood also hit .583. Michigan tied their season high with 9 blocks (the other came in a 4 set game). Most importantly, Michigan showed in this game that they have the mental toughness to stay in when down against a good team.
One of the biggest influences today was the Zone. The Zone got into both opponents' heads this game, as shown by the Marquette coach spiking a ball at them in frustration. That's big. Even if the marketing department and Blue Ice are helping out, it's you fans that show up that make a huge impact.
Make sure you make it to Crisler following the football game. Let's fill the place up. Beat the Beavers.
Updated II (Sunday 11am):
Women's rowing doesn't make that much sense to me. I haven't learned the lingo yet. So here's how it went by my understanding. Michigan scrimmaged Michigan State and Eastern Michigan. Michigan fielded two boats in the 8-woman competition and two boats in the 4-woman competition. Michigan State swept the 5 races in the 8's, while Michigan had teams place 2&4, 2&4, 2&4, 2&3, and 2&4 (those are places out of 6, UM had 2 boats per race).
Michigan fared better in the 4-woman teams, finishing 1&2, 1&2, 1&3, 1&3, and 1&3 (out of 3). If that made any sense to you, more power to you. Perhaps by the time their real season comes about, I'll be able to tell you more about it.
Men's soccer posted a 5-1 win over Western Michigan last night to 6-1-0 on the season. Michigan got a goal from Adam Keller, Cam Cameron, Alex Wood, Justin Meram, and Alex Klein. Meram, Wood, Cameron, Hamoody Saad (2), Chase Tennant, Jeff Quijano, and Daniel Gray all registered an assist.
Also worth noting, Michigan has outscored opponents 16-6 in the second half this season. This game saw Michigan outscore Western 3-1 in the second.
Coach Burns "Man of the Match" was Adam Keller. From MGoBlue.com:
Adam Keller played a really strong game. He started out a center back and kind of felt his way into the game where he could contribute offensively. Then we pushed him forward into a more defensive role. I thought he did a great job of winning balls and winning that part of the space and getting forward in the attack.
In field hockey, the field hockey team made a valiant effort against #7 Syracuse. Falling behind 1-0 at the 15 minute mark, Michigan put on the pressure in the offensive end and tied the score 10 minutes later on Vanessa Sekhon's first goal of the season. This 1-1 tie would last through regulation, until in the 84th minute, Syracuse netted the game-winner for their 5th overtime win of the year.
This game was an oddly quiet one for both Meredith Way and Bryn Bain. Way didn't even register a shot and Bain had only 2 shots, neither on goal. Alicia Mayer was the shot leader with 4, 3 on goal. Mayer also had the assist on Skehon's goal.
Also worth noting that Paige Pickett went the full game in the net, allowing just the two goals. That's a good showing for any net keeper. I think it's also a testament to the defense for allowing only 6 shots on goal. As a comparison, Michigan took 13 shots. Great play by the defense.
Volleyball…sigh. They'll get their own post in a few minutes. I'll update this with that link after I get it out. Mini-update: Volleyball Swept By Oregon State.
Update III (Sunday 5pm):
The women's soccer team posted a 1-0 shut out of Miami (FL) in a game that saw the Wolverines outshot by a margin of 21-6. Holly Hein put in the lone goal by heading in a Jackie Carron free kick in the 44th minute. The header kicked off the top cross bar of the net and into the goal. Haley Kopemeyer was in goal for the full 90 minutes, posting 6 saves. This is a solid win for Michigan heading into BigTen play.
Field hockey went to overtime again against Louisville in the second game of the weekend, and yet again, they came out on the losing side – 2-3 this time in 77 minutes. Michigan gave up a quick goal in the third minute, but netted goals by Alex Zeringue and Meredith Way to take a 2-1 lead. Both goals came off penalty corners, including Zeringue's which was a rebound from the initial shot.
In overtime, Louisville set up a pass from the center of the circle to their player posted right on the goalie. The Cardinals spun the ball around and flipped it into the net.
Despite losing both games this weekend, Michigan took a pair of ranked opponents to sudden death overtime. This is encouraging as the team appears to be playing better as they move along.
Men's tennis is still yet to report back from the final day of the Napa Valley invitational. Freshman Evan King was due to play in the championship of the singles tournament at 2:15pm ET today.
That's going to be blocked
The picture above (and all others in this post are by MGoBlue.com) has to summarize the match better than I can. Here we see Megan Bower going for a kill. On the other side of the net is Goliath, also known as a 6'5" Australian by the name of Rourke. This giant registered 25 kills and 5 service aces. To put that in perspective, her closest teammate had 7 kills.
Adding insult to injury, this picture is just one of 12 blocks by Oregon State. Oregon State's Ashley Eneliko had 6 block assists. Five different Beavers had a solo block. We just weren't on hitting the ball in this game.
Lexi is good but can do only so much on poor passes
Michigan ended up with three players in double digit kills on the game in Veronica Rood, Alex Hunt, and Juliana Paz, but it just wasn't enough. Hunt never seemed to get going in this match. Her hitting percentage was hovering around .065 until very late in the third set. That's not going to win games. She also had an off night at the service line. One game after setting the Michigan record for aces in a game, she came out and posted 0 aces and 3 service errors.
Paz even had a fairly off game. I don't know if it was the blocks, or if it was due to a calf injury (it was taped according to commenter Other Chris), but she just wasn't her normal dominating self. Very few times did she hit the ball with her usual authority. Suffice to say, when our top two hitters are off, Michigan is in for trouble.
One of the bright spots in this was the play of Veronica Rood. She placed 10 kills and offered a great change of pace when our outside hitters were struggling. It seemed like whenever Michigan came out of timeouts, Rood became the primary option, but then faded slowly out of the picture as Michigan tried to get their outside hitters in rhythm. As I said, that didn't really happen until the very end of the last set, far too late.
The most concerning thing going forward has little to do with attacking offense as it does communication on defense. Over the last two weeks, Michigan has become sloppy on defense, allowing at least 2-3 balls per game to just fall between three players, who sometimes are all running away from the ball.
I can't see these games, so I'm not entirely sure who to pin the blame on. Most of these seem to come off tipped blocks, which makes me suspect our back row play by our hitters is still really slow. As an example of this was when Alex Hunt was substituted for Michelle McMahon following one of these misplayed balls. Perhaps Hunt just hasn't become comfortable in the back row yet and is slow in reacting to tipped balls. See the picture above. That's a desperation dive, but most likely on a serve judging by the position of Sloane and Juliana.
Paz also had trouble in the back, but most of hers were on serves. Rourke's 5 aces came mainly at the expense of Juliana. Paz also was involved in some of the lost balls.
In the long run, this game came down to Michigan beating itself up just as much as Rourke's excellent play did. After Michigan blew a 12-2 lead in the first set, momentum went completely to the Beavers and Michigan looked lost. Michigan was begging for the refs to bail them out by calling nonexistent tips and kept making mental mistakes. Oregon State just kept attacking, and they had just enough luck on the balls rolling over the net. It seemed to demoralize Michigan.
This game really reminded me of Michigan's play over the last few years. We are a good team that just couldn't put it all together in any set. We kept it close on raw talent alone. We lost it on our own mental toughness. This whole game was a disappointment, especially with the crowd that showed up, supposedly 2,673. Most of those left before the second set was finished.
Michigan finished 2nd in the tournament, and placed three players on the All-Tournament team in Zimmerman, Paz, and Rood. In a more dubious fashion, Michigan also cemented Tournament MVP for Rourke.
Michigan opens BigTen play at Indiana on Friday. MGoBlue will have live stats and a CiL. More on that in next week's Michigan sports weekend.
I'm going to interview Coach Rosen in the next day or so. I'm working on a list of questions, and thought I'd open it up for questions that you the readers/fans would like to know.
If you have a question you'd like to submit, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll see what I can fit in.
Big tournament this weekend. Get pumped.
This weekend is a big home weekend for many of the Michigan sports. Volleyball is hosting their first game as this diary is being posted, field hockey hosts a pair of teams, and men's soccer also plays host to a pair of opponents. Golf also opens this weekend on the road, while women's soccer and cross country also hit the road. Paul is also looking to make a few appearances to games this weekend. Hopefully we'll get another solid post from him.
- Friday 12:30p vs Fairfield,
- Friday 7:30p vs Morehead State,
- Saturday 12:30 vs VCU,
- Saturday 7:30p vs Missouri
Volleyball is hosting the Michigan Challenge this weekend (full schedule here), and there will be games starting from 10am to 7:30p both today Friday and tomorrow Saturday. Michigan faces off with the above mentioned teams, none of which are ranked.
Michigan played a bit sloppy against EMU earlier in the week, playing down to the Eagles level. Michigan did allow the subs to finally get in some quality PT during the match, and did well to fight back when behind. That said, they should never have let EMU get ahead. Photo on the right by Eastern Michigan Athletics
#26 ranking (also receiving votes section), 2-1-0 record
- Friday 7:30p vs
- Sunday 2:30p vs
Michigan soccer is also hosting an invitational this weekend. Neither opponent is expected to give Michigan many problems.
#20 ranking, 1-3 record
- Saturday 12p vs #5 Connecticut
- Sunday 1p vs Ball State
Connecticut will be a tough game for Michigan, but it is the home opener, so hopefully Michigan can use a bump from the home football crowd who may show up a bit early and give some extra home field advantage (hint hint). Connecticut is coming off a weekend where they defeated #11 Penn State in State College. They will be tough. Ball State is 2-2 with a loss to #30 Villanova.
Unranked, 3-3-0 record
- Friday 5p (ET) at Cal State-Fullerton
- Sunday 3p (ET) at Southern California
Cal State-Fullerton is winless thus far in the season (0-4) but will be an interesting road test for Michigan. USC also hasn't been that strong this season, posting a 1-3-0 record, with that one win coming over Cal State-Fullerton.
- Men's: Friday 5:30p @ State College, Pa
Michigan is sending 10 runners for the 5.2 mile race. This race is being hosted by Penn State, and the course will approximate the the Nov. 1st BigTen Conference Championship course. Picture on right by Mark Vloet, posted at MGoBlue.
- Women's: Saturday/Sunday @ East Lansing, MI
- Men's: Saturday/Sunday @ Zionsville, IN
The women are facing a par 72 and 6,237 yards on the Forest Akers West Golf Course. The match is 54 holes, 36 on day one, 18 on day two. Five players per team will play, with the lowest four scores per round counting. This will be the first tournament for Coach Cheryl Stacy, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach this year.
- The #21 ranked men's team also faces a par 72, but at 7,465 yards at the Wolf Run Country Club. They too face 54 holes, 36 on day one and 18 on day two. Michigan has had success at Wolf Run, winning the team title last year, and having a now-alumnus medaling as an individual two years ago.
Friday 1:45p: Volleyball Won 3-0, 25-9(!), 25-17, 25-16. Subs and freshmen made it into this game as it was all Michigan, all game. Zimmerman (.727 hitting percentage! on 11 attempts) and Paz each had 8 kills to lead the team. Hunt had plenty of attempts, but just wasn't landing the points. We held Fairfield to a .066 hitting percentage, which is just absolutely ridiculous. They were definitely overmatched.
Friday 11:30p: Everything is done for the night, and the only game Michigan lost was in women's soccer. Michigan lost 0-2 to Cal State-Fullerton, but the game was closer than what it appeared. Michigan put two balls into net, one being called back by an off sides call and another by a foul call.
The game was particularly rough (21 total fouls), leading to a pair of red cards (one per team) and a pair of penalty kicks (also one per team). Amanda Bowery was the red card for Michigan, as she and a CSF player were both ejected at the same time, making me guess there was a women's soccer fight.
Men's soccer went much better with a 3-0 win over
Lipscomb Wright State. Mauro Fettuzi doubled his goal total tonight from 2 to 4 with a pair of set play goals. He converted a penalty kick and a free kick for goals. Freshman Kofi Opare had the game winner.
Men's cross country also saw a Michigan victory in less than favorable conditions of mud and wetness. Michigan came in with a final score of 25, with the next closest teams coming in at 40, 81 and 126 (just for perspective). Michigan had five players finish in the top ten, including Bobby Aprill in second place with a time of 26 minutes, 27 seconds.
Correction: I had the men's soccer schedule backwards. It has been corrected there and in the Friday 11:30p update.
Saturday 5:30p: Volleyball won 3-0 over VCU in the early afternoon. Michigan won by scores of 25-11, 25-17, and 26-24. Juliana Paz had a ridiculous 8 service aces. She and Alex Hunt shared the lead with 14 kills a piece. The VCU coach received a yellow card for being a bit too animated.
Field hockey was last seen being down 5-1 with Bryn Bain netting the only goal. Christi Barwick saw some time in goal after Paige Pickett gave up 4 goals on 4 shots on goal against in just the first 28 minutes of play. Barwick only had 2 shots on goal against her, but she also gave up a goal.
The bottom line: UM swept, 25-19, 31-29, 25-20. You can read about it at http://mgoblue.com/volleyball/article.aspx?id=184662. UM beat Tennessee, host Xavier, and ND in the three-day tournament, and are now 5-0 on the year.
Couple of observations from the match:
1. Juliana Paz is a beast. You know how when you watch women’s team sports and there’s often one or two players who just play differently from everyone else (struggling not to use the phrase “play like men”)? That’s Juliana. She’s got a nice vertical, a whip of an arm swing, and is super intense.*
2. On that note, the whole team is very intense, especially Megan Bower. She has the look that was once written about in a theme song for a boxing movie. I liked how she encouraged her teammates but also didn’t suffer foolish plays gladly. She got after her teammates, and I’d wager that they don’t want to get on her bad side.
3. The other terminator on the team is Alex Hunt. She’s a lefty, but plays on the left side (I think she follows the setter Zimmerman). I found this strange, since lefties are usually more effective on the right side. Maybe her blocking isn’t up to snuff, I don’t know. Anyway, she hits what people call a “heavy ball.” Very little rotation on it, and in fact her arm swing isn’t particularly impressive, but she really drives it.
4. Lexi Zimmerman, the setter, is a lot of fun to watch. Very athletic, but also very clever with the ball. She had 4 or 5 kills on dumps to the middle of the floor, but also 2 or 3 more on shots to the deep right corner. I thought her left-side and middle setting were only average, but she's among the best I've seen at flicking it to the right side. She set a back slide in the first game off a really tight pass that made the crowd gasp. Also, her two left-side hitters really make her look good (Paz hit .385 on 39 attacks and Hunt hit a ludicrous .458 on 24 attacks).
5. It was an interesting match in that UM didn’t overpower ND at the net, especially in terms of blocking. I’d say blocking was the weakest part of UM’s game. Attacking, digging, and especially passing are where UM gets it done. I would say that the only phase of the game in which UM clearly outplayed ND was in passing, with Zimmerman’s athletic ability a close second. In other words, the ND setter was probably better at just delivering a hittable ball to the outside, but she wasn’t nearly as able to improvise off a poor pass. So, with UM’s overall better passing and Zimmerman’s ability to make something out of a poor pass, UM usually had better scoring opportunities on every play.
Finally, I would encourage people who live in A2 (and other B11 towns) to go to some matches this year. The team is a lot of fun to watch. Paz, Hunt, and Zimmerman are truly worth the (likely very low) price of admission.
I’ve seen a few matches at Cliff Keen over the years when the team wasn’t very good. I hear good things about how raucous it’s been lately, and the quality of the team this year (and last, of course) should only serve to feed the fans.
* I also may or may not be more than a little in love with her.