For Michigan Volleyball it’s another tournament appearance for the Wolverines as they will be taking on Colorado State on Friday, December 1st at 4:30 PM (Pacific Time).
For Mark Rosen, it’s another tournament appearance and he has the same mentality every year around tournament time. “This is the time of year we all strive for and everyone is excited about getting to the tournament. We are excited to play Colorado State again in the first round.” Michigan will host Colorado State at a neutral site and the winner of that match will take on defending champion Stanford in the Stanford bracket. The Big Ten was well represented in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament this year and Rosen says that shows how good the Big Ten Conference is. “I think the Big Ten got kind of a raw deal,” Rosen remarked. “I thought either Iowa or Maryland could of got in there and Ohio State would of got in if they would have won their last match. I thought they would have got in,” Rosen stated. “The committee favored the Big Ten last year and none of us came through so hopefully we or one of us can win it for the conference,” Rosen said. “Seeding wise I thought Nebraska kind of got a raw deal. I thought they should have been seeded in the top 4 and they weren’t,” Rosen continued
Michigan ended the season very strong with wins over Michigan State, Illinois and two wins over Purdue who they have not beaten since 2010. “I like how we are playing right now,” Rosen said. “We struggled in the first part of the year and we were trying to get something going. For the last month and a half we have been playing very solid and we are competing very well against different types of teams. I like our play heading into the tournament and it’s something we talk to our team about a lot. You need to play your best volleyball at end of the season and we have done that.” There have been a lot of standouts for Michigan Volleyball and it all begins with Carly Skjodt. “Carly has been huge and without her we would not be on this run. Claire Kieffer Wright has been huge and in the last month she has really elevated her game. Mckenzie Welsh is setting at a much higher level than she was at the beginning of the year and I think that Jenna Lerg has had really good defense. She kind of goes under the radar. She’s not flashy or brings a lot of attention to herself, but her defense has been really, really good the last month,” Rosen said.
Rosen also reminisced about his 2012 Michigan Volleyball team who went to the final four. “Ironically, that season was just like this one,” Rosen said. “It started off normal, very run of the mill. Mid season we caught fire and just started rollin’. It was an Indiana/Purdue road trip. We had a bad match against Purdue and it was a long frustrating bus ride to Indiana. That’s when the team turned the corner and played great against Indiana. After that, we were on a roll and made it all the way to the final four. This season we were kind of up and down and trying to figure it out. I think the 5 set match against Northwestern was a turning point for us and we were able to get a 5 set match win against Illinois. But, you really can’t compare teams until it’s all said and done and this team has a lot of work to do. We definitely did not get an easy draw with Stanford and Colorado State which is a really good team. We have a lot of work to do but I would not put anything past this team the way we are playing right now,” Rosen continued. Rosen then offered the keys to success if Michigan wants to make another final four run like they did in 2012. “We have to keep playing great defense and that’s what has been the biggest turning point for us, I watched the match against Colorado State back in September and our defense was horrendous and we knew that. We could hit a big number offensively but we would let the other team hit a bigger number. In the last month and a half, our defense is up to a whole different level. We still have to set, serve tough, and play great defense. We also have to stay balanced on offense. We just can’t rely on one player or that would be our downfall. We have done that in times throughout the year where our ball control or decision making forced us into a one dimensional kind of offense and that is not where we will be successful. So, I think defense and balance would be the two biggest things for us,” Rosen continued.
Michigan Opens the NCAA Tournament with Colorado State on Friday, December 1st. The Match is at 4:30 PM (Pacific Time) and will be played at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.