April 24, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan volleyball team wrapped up its spring season this past Saturday (April 19) by going 7-1 in its last two tournaments, which included a perfect 4-0 mark at the Michigan Spring Invitational.
"The offseason is where we can really make huge strides, and I thought that this spring, we did," U-M head coach Mark Rosen said. "We lost a lot of our offense, a lot of our passing and our ball control, so those were areas we had to make sure we were developing for the next group."
The Maize and Blue opened the spring schedule by playing Northwestern at Cliff Keen Arena. It was a good opportunity to play 6-on-6 against another Big Ten opponent and play different situations and lineups. Michigan then went 7-1 in the tournaments, defeating Oakland, Central Michigan, Cleveland State and Ball State in the U-M spring tournament.
There were a couple of players out due to injury in the spring, but that gave some players experience at different positions.
"We didn't have a lot of defensive specialists in the gym, so (Lindsey) Lerg got a ton of opportunities (to be our libero. But also some players that don't normally play back row now play back row. It was a great time of development and opportunity for them. I thought that what shined in this spring was offensively in the middle and right side. We were really physical and we had a really good core there with Abby [Cole], Gabbie [Bulic], Olivia [Reed], and KG [Krystalyn Goode]. It's a big, physical group."
Rosen liked the steps the Maize and Blue made in the spring and the leadership that U-M's only senior in 2014, Lexi Dannemiller, provided.
"I thought our blocking took a big step this spring. We spent a lot of time working on it and again, we're pretty physical, so I think our blocking got a lot better. Across the board, I was really pleased with everybody. Dannemiller is moving into a senior role very, very well. Being the only senior on the team can have its advantages. With Claire McElheny, it was her senior year, and she wanted to make that mark. I think Lexi's [Dannemiller] forming similarly right now. You can tell it's really important to her. She's working really hard; she's really committed to not only her personal development but this team's development. That's a huge plus."
This summer, Dannemiller and Cole will be playing for USA Volleyball in the China Tour and on the Collegiate National Team, respectively. Also, more than half the returners will be in Ann Arbor this summer.
"The off season is really important. I think our sport is so interesting because you work really hard in the spring and are very organized, and all of a sudden in the summer they're on their own. We need them to -- and expect them to -- come back in a really good place. So that's on them. This is a team that's really showing - so far - showing some signs of some major commitment and leadership in that area. A lot of the players are staying around, which is great. They seem to be focused on working with the strength coach, working on their own, getting in the gym, working on their volleyball.
"So, we hope they're focused on improvement and they come back in August better than they were in April. And I think this group really gets that. We'll see in August when we get back, but I'm excited about what they've portrayed so far as far as their motivation in that area."
Contact: Kent Reichert