Brandon's Blog: Intangibles Help Volleyball to Sweet 16
Sloane Donhoff

Dec. 8, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

This has been a great week for Michigan athletics.

From football headlines announcing our invitation to play Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to Lloyd Carr's National Football Foundation Hall of Fame induction, there has been plenty for U-M fans to cheer about when it comes to the pigskin.

And as football garners such well-deserved attention, it is also time for our fans to cheer on another Wolverine team making waves of its own.

The U-M volleyball team is going to the NCAA Sweet 16. Friday night (Dec. 9), the Wolverines will take on Florida in Gainesville, Fla.

Even though it will be the fourth time in the last five years U-M has made it this far in the NCAA Tournament, the season was extremely tough for this team.

After a 13-0 start, Michigan volleyball found itself in a tailspin. Through the next 14 matches, the Wolverines, whose All-American setter Lexi Zimmerman graduated in 2010, won only four, with losses to seven ranked teams, including four in the top 10. Hopes for another NCAA trip were far from the team's mind; the Wolverines had to right the ship.

The lesson they have learned and the lesson they are teaching to others: in the face of adversity, when life isn't treating you well, don't hesitate! Don't stop trying to improve yourself! Be relentless!!

Head coach Mark Rosen's motto is "Be Relentless."

Of course, when everything around you is going fine, it is much easier to "Be Relentless." When you are in a slump and the ball is not bouncing your way, the coach and the team need someone to step up to the challenge and take charge.

Senior captain Sloane Donhoff answered the bell. She put this team on her back. She was the driving force. She put the swagger back into the Wolverines. It was her leadership on and off the court that helped the Wolverines get back on track.

Donhoff is not new to this game. Rosen knew she was special when he made her captain as a sophomore.

We look at the headlines, we understand stats.

Donhoff has now been a captain for three years. On Friday she will tie the record for the most appearances (140) by any U-M volleyball player in its varsity history. It is a wonderful statistic that Sloane should be very proud of.

However, many don't see what happens in the locker room, at practice or off the court, where there are many leadership traits vitally important to a team's success.

Leadership is more important than stats or records. Donhoff understands and embraces the responsibilities of leading her team. She also understands the need to be relentless. We thank her for her talent, hard work, and desire to lead. (She is a great example of "leaders and best" in every way!)

Good luck to our U-M volleyball team this weekend. We are proud of you all!

Go Blue!

Dave Brandon Home Page