Volleyball Takes on Penn State

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on October 16th, 2009 at 3:28 PM

lexibecrisp Game Set:

  • PSU @ UM
  • Friday October 16
  • 7pm
  • Cliff Keen Arena
  • Tape Delayed on ESPN2, Sunday Oct 18, 1pmET
  • Live Radio - WBCN Ann Arbor 88.3

Tonight is a huge game for Michigan on the volleyball court as #11 Michigan takes on #1 Penn State at Cliff Keene Arena. PSU comes in undefeated in their last 82 games, and they also hold a 35-3 record against Michigan. That said, this is a different Michigan team than years past. Michigan comes in with a 16-3 record and with a stronger winning attitude than in years past.

Despite all the positives that could come from this game, Michigan is focusing on the game, not the potential results. When talking with the Daily, coach Mark Rosen describes the focus:

If you think about the end product, it doesn’t get you anywhere. ... We really try to focus on the process and get back to concentrating on the small picture rather than the big picture.

These sentiments were also shared by Lexi Zimmerman today on her CiL live chat on mgoblue.com. Lexi stressed the need to play crisp, to make the right passes, and to make the right reads.

I am going to work on seeing the block and making good decisions.   It all goes back to being crisp, we have to be crisp tonight from start to finish.

It'll be important tonight as those middles are some of the best in the nation. Arielle Wilson is a 6'-3" junior who is averaging 1.46 blocks per set. If that wasn't solid enough, their second middle is Fatima Balza, another 6'-3" junior averaging 1.35 blocks/set. That's good for 3rd and 4th in the BigTen respectively. To put it in perspective, Michigan's leading blocker, Courtney Fletcher averages just .8 blocks/set.

Team Comparisons

Michigan

Penn State

Advantage

Kill/Set 14.27 Dig/Set 13.05 Michigan
Dig/Set 15.81 Kill/Set 15.07 Push
Kill% .261 Blocks/Set 2.97 PSU
Blocks/Set 1.81 Kill% .421 PSU
Aces/Set 1.78 Opponent Aces/Set 0.48 PSU
Opponent Aces/set 1.09 Aces/Set 1.64 Michigan
Avg Opp. RPI 69.2 Avg Opp. RPI 100.1 -

I'll give that these matchups aren't the most solid ways to compare a pair of teams, but I think it at least offer a little bit of an idea of play.

roodkeyplayerMichigan has played a much tougher schedule so far this season, and that has a little to do with PSU gaining an advantage on their kill numbers. That said, some of their numbers are so much higher, and that's because of the talent on the Nittany Lions.

I'm somewhat worried about that kill percentage of PSU versus our block and digs. Michigan doesn't block all that well. Penn State will try to capitalize on that often. The good news here is that we were able to hold up against Indiana on the road who had the next best set of middles in the BigTen. The Nittany Lions are a good step up on the Hoosiers, but hopefully we can have a solid game from Rood (pictured to the right via MGoBlue) and Fletch. They'll be one of the keys to the game.

Michigan tends more to rely on a solid service game on both sides of the net. We want to receive well and we want to hold the lead in aces. Penn State has done well this season on receiving and have a solid ace count themselves. Whoever wins this facet of the game will probably come out on top.

The game starts at 7pm, so if you are one of the lucky few with tickets, get out there early. The girls feed off the energy and want to hear you get loud.

Comments

MGoAndy

October 16th, 2009 at 3:53 PM ^

WCBN, the official voice of Michigan Volleyball, also has live audio on MGoBlue.com, and we'll be playing the call live tonight on WCBN 88.3 FM Ann Arbor.

Go Blue!

Bando Calrissian

October 17th, 2009 at 12:58 AM ^

Awesome they kept it close. I was at at the NCAA tournament game out in State College in 2007, and that was not exactly the most fun experience. It's been awesome to see the progress the program has made, even since then. PSU is a juggernaut, it's an achievement in itself to take them to 5.

VictorsValiant09

October 17th, 2009 at 2:42 AM ^

I was really glad I listened to the audio stream online.

We shot ourselves in the foot with all those service aces.

I agree with Coach Rosen's quote, PSU was the more athletic team.

I lament the loss of the 2-1 lead, but we showed a lot of heart tonight.