Yes, it's been a long time but there's sufficient news to be shared to warrant another in this occasional series.
Let's begin with Men's Soccer where super-frosh Soony Saad is Michigan's first All-American since Michael Holody in 2008. Saad was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) 2nd Team All-American. Saad was also named to the All-Great Lakes region 1st team while senior Justin Meram was named to its 2nd team.
Justin Meram (L) and Soony Saad (R)
Saad, who finished second in the nation in goals with 19, broke U-M's seven-year-old single-season goals record and has also set new single-season records in points with 43 and shots with 143. Saad's 19 goals also led all freshmen nationally, and he is the only freshman to be ranked in the top five nationally in points and goals. He was also named TopDrawerSoccer.com Rookie of Year as well as All-Big Ten first team, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Big Ten Tournament.
Meram closed his senior season on a nine-game scoring streak, the longest in program history, and scored U-M's lone goal in the College Cup semifinals against eventual national champion Akron. Meram played and started in 23 games, tallying 42 points on 17 goals and a team-leading eight assists. [His] 42 points, 17 goals and 104 shots in 2010 each rank second best in a single season all-time.
Meram is a two-time All-Big Ten second team selection and has earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week this season to go along with TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week and College Soccer News Player of the Week honors. He will be competing at the 2011 adidas MLS Player Combine, held Jan. 8-12 at Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Meram becomes the seventh Michigan player to participate in the MLS pre-draft combine and is looking to become U-M's fifth MLSuperDraft selection.
Soony Saad was also selected by USA U-20 National Team head coach Thomas Rongen as one of 24 players for its Dec 12-19 training camp now ongoing in Sunrise, Florida. This training camp will include friendlies against Canada on Dec 16 and Dec 18. Saad is one of nine players making his first appearance in a USMNT U-20 camp.
Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman (2nd team) and junior outside hitter Alex Hunt (third team) of the volleyball team were both named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 2010 All-America team. This is Zimmerman's third straight All-American honor and Hunt's first.
Zimmerman completes her career as the only Wolverine to earn three All-America awards, grabbing a second team laurel in 2008 and a first team distinction in 2009 before this year's selection to the second team. She led the Wolverines in assists (10.86) for the fourth straight season, ending her career as Michigan's all-time leader with 5,903, the sixth-best mark in Big Ten history. Zimmerman, the program leader in appearances at 140, also picked up All-Big Ten honors this season for the third consecutive year.
Hunt nabbed a spot on the third team for her first All-America award as a Wolverine. She led U-M and the conference in points (5.04) and kills (4.41). She is the only Big Ten player to average more than five points per set, using 503 kills, 45 service aces and 46 total blocks for 574.5 points. Hunt recorded 12 matches with at least 20 kills, including a 28-kill performance in a 3-2 win over No. 14 Minnesota on Sept. 25.
The duo's selection to the All-America team marks the second consecutive season that two Wolverines have earned national recognition. In 2009, outside hitter Juliana Paz (2008-09) earned third team honors in addition to Zimmerman's first team selection.
2011 PRESEASON COACHES POLL RANKINGS – Men
2011 PRESEASON COACHES POLL RANKINGS – Women
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
3. Penn State
T6. Michigan State
T6. Ohio State
[The defending NCAA champion men's gymnastics team returns] the 2010 Big Ten and NCAA all-around champion, senior Chris Cameron, and a pair of 2010 All-Americans, seniors Thomas Kelley and Ian Makowske. Leading the 11 member freshman class, [is] Sam Mikulak, national champion at the 2010 USA Gymnastics Championships.
The four-time defending Big Ten champion [women's gymnastics team returns] nine letterwinners, five All-Americans and three Big Ten champions to a program with more Big Ten team titles (18) than any other conference women's program in any sport. [Five-time All-America senior Kylee Botterman], fifth-year senior Sarah Curtis, fifth-year senior Jordan Sexton and senior Trish Wilson captain a roster of gymnasts that have never lost at a Big Ten Championships. All-Big Ten first team honorees Botterman and Curtis join defending Big Ten vault champion [and All-America sophomore Natalie Beilstein] looking to make a run at a 19th Big Ten title.
L, 0-3 (22-25, 17-25, 16,25)
The volleyball team was swept in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last night at the hands of #11 Washington. The #23 Wolverines were missing Alex Hunt due to an injury, and adding more youth to an already young lineup didn't help Michigan's cause.
Senior setter in the Big Ten spotlight:
Tomorrow is the last game of the season as Michigan takes on Northwestern in Evanston. Despite the hot start to begin the season, the last couple weeks of Big Ten play haven't been so kind to the ladies. They currently sit in 4th place in the Big Ten at 12-7 (23-8 overall). That's good enough for a #19 ranking in the coaches poll (before Wednesday's loss to State) and a #28 RPI (loss included).
Saturday night, while we were doing our best to avoid the bros, the volleyball team upset #6 Illinois at Cliff Keen Arena. It was a huge game for the spikers with Lexi Zimmerman posting her second career triple double (43 assists, 13 digs and 13 kills) in an epic performance, even for the best volleyball player in the history of the program. Michigan now sits atop the Big Ten standings at 5-1 along with Illinois and Northwestern.
Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman is a two time All-American. She's got ups.
This year the volleyball team expected a bit of a transition after making the elite eight and then losing outside hitters Juliana Paz and Megan Bower to graduation. However the team is off to a scorching 16-2 start to the season, with a loss coming early on to Toledo and more lately at powerhouse Penn State. How have they done it? It's been an exciting mix of veterans and rookies for the Maize and Blue:
Everyone knows, or should know Lexi Zimmerman - the two time (soon to be three) All-American setter for the Wolverines. Lexi is the floor general and has been doing what she does - DOMINATE - all season for the Wolverines.
Junior Alex Hunt needed to step up big this season for the Wolverines and she has. She led the team with 19 kills against Illinois last Saturday and has shown that she can pick up the slack left by Paz and Bower.
Junior libero Sloane Donhoff anchors the back line for Michigan, routinely leading the team in digs.
Junior middle blocker Courtney Fletcher got off to a solid start early and is well on her way to surpass her kill totals from last season.
Several underclassmen have made a big impact on the team this year early on in their careers. After appearing in only seven sets last season, RS Sophomore Claire McElheny is off to a great start to the 2010 season. She has started 15 matches for the Wolverines and recorded 10 kills in M's upset of the Illini. Her contribution has certainly been a big one and helped in the replacement of Paz and Bower.
True freshmen Molly Toon and Jennifer Cross have come on strong and are showing some promise for Michigan's future. Jennifer Cross, a 6-4 middle blocker, has started 16 times this year for the Wolverines and notched 8 kills and 6 blocks against Illinois. Molly Toon, daughter of the NFL's Al Toon, came up big in the Wolverines' win over Illinois, notching a career high-tying 9 kills.
How They Got Here: 16-2 (5-1)
Michigan opened the season at the Toledo Classic, winning their first two games of the year before falling to the host Rockets in the championship game in five sets. Since then the Wolverines have been on a tear.
M won 12 straight matches including an early season win at Oregon State and sweeps of the Michigan/adidas Invitational and the ASU Sheraton Tournament.
To start Big Ten play, Michigan hosted and defeated Iowa and #15 Minnesota before taking their first conference road trip. On the road M beat OSU in 4 sets before travelling to Penn State. While Penn State isn't the beast that they have been in years past (currently standing at 3-3 in B10 play), the Nittany Lions took care of the Wolverines in straight sets.
The Wolverines returned home this past weekend to defeat Wisconsin and Illinois.
Tonight: MSU at 7pm; Saturday #20 Northwestern at 7pm (Live on BTN)
If you want to feel better about little sister, come to Cliff Keen tonight, where the Wolverines should be able to take care of the Spartans. Alex Hunt currently sits are 989 career kills and the good money says that she will notch kill 1000 against MSU tonight.
As previously mentioned, Northwestern is tied with Michigan atop the Big Ten standings. So Saturday's matchup is a big one with a lot on the line. Michigan will head back out on the road so it's important to get this win to set up what could be a great Big Ten season.
|Wed., Oct. 13||vs. Michigan State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 15||vs. No. 20 Northwestern *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 22||at Indiana *||Bloomington, Ind.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Oct. 23||at Purdue *||West Lafayette, Ind.||6:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Oct. 29||at Illinois *||Champaign, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Sat., Oct. 30||at Wisconsin *||Madison, Wis.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Fri., Nov. 5||vs. Penn State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 6||vs. Ohio State *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||6:00 p.m. ET|
|Fri., Nov. 12||at Minnesota *||Minneapolis, Minn.||6:00 p.m. CT|
|Sat., Nov. 13||at Iowa *||Iowa City, Iowa||7:00 p.m. CT|
|Fri., Nov. 19||vs. Purdue *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 20||vs. Indiana *||Ann Arbor, Mich.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Wed., Nov. 24||at Michigan State *||East Lansing, Mich.||6:30 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Nov. 27||at Northwestern *||Evanston, Ill.||7:00 p.m. CT|
If Michigan can go to 7-1 in conference play this week, they set themselves up for a legitimate run at a Big Ten Championship. The Big Ten is one of the best volleyball conferences in the nation, though, so they'll need to show up every night. A westernish road trip to Indiana and Purdue should produce two victories, but road games are road games. It'll be the following week at Illinois where we see what this team is made of. In their first true road test they fell hard to the Lions. Can they show up and upset the Illini for the second time on the season?
After four on the road, it doesn't get any easier with Penn State coming to town. But with Penn State's losses to graduation this could be the year (last year M took them to 5 sets) that Cliff Keen witnesses a victory over the Nittany Lions.
NEEDS MOAR PAZ
MGoBlue has an interesting interview with Mark Rosen about the upcoming season:
There had been a little debate in a previous volleyball thread about the coaches' poll ranking. Rosen touches on that and the incoming talent in the freshman class. Sounds like a lot of possibility -- we may drive down to Toledo for their opening tournament.
It's August and that means the return of my favorite fall sport. That's right, volleyball. While I haven't quite gotten to my season preview (should be one for volleyball and the soccers coming if next week goes as planned), stories are already hitting the news wire.
Today, the Big Ten released the Preseason Conference Poll and Preseason All Big Ten teams. Michigan, coming off a 27-10 regular season and #9 final national ranking, has been picked to finish 5th in the Big Ten (pdf) behind perennial favorite Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio State. This is pretty much on par with the final standings last year, where Michigan finished tied with Ohio State in 4th place.
Coach Rosen via MGoBlue:
"Preseason polls do not mean much," 12th-year head coach Mark Rosen said. "The conference is good enough right now that one through 11 is up for grabs. I really think that the Big Ten is the deepest it has ever been this year. We have a lot of work to do to live up to that finish, but I think that our team is up for it."
Along with the standings, Michigan also had two players named to the Preseason All Big Ten Team. Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman makes her 3rd consecutive Preseason All Big Ten Team, this time as a unanimous pick.
Joining Zimmerman on the Preseason All Big Ten Team is junior left side hitter Alex Hunt. Hunt makes her first appearance on the Preseason Team, and looks to be Michigan's biggest returning weapon after the graduation of Juliana Paz and Veronica Rood.
(Photos via MGoBlue)