The Wolverine

August 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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A True Team Effort Volleyball Enjoys An Unprecedented Final Four Run S By Michael Spath itting in his living room, surrounded by his team and his assistant coaches, Mark Rosen needed only a moment to collect his thoughts when the 2012 NCAA Championships draw was announced. Women's Team Of The Year Volleyball The road to a Final Four berth would be incredibly challenging — an opening contest with Tennessee, a likely second-round match with host (and No. 9) Louisville, a possible third-round meeting with defending national champion UCLA, and a quarterfinal showdown with secondranked Stanford — but Rosen didn't blink. "It wasn't going to be easy, but I liked our draw," Rosen said. "I thought Tennessee was a little overranked. Louisville was under pressure because they were hosting the Final Four and really wanted to qualify. UCLA did scare me, but if we found a way past them then I liked our chances against Stanford because we'd beaten them two of the last three years. "It was a hard schedule, but a fair schedule." Rosen also knew something perhaps the pundits and schedule-makers did not — his team, 7-2 in its last nine matches, was peaking, playing for each other and capable of beating anyone. "I have never been on a team that every player, starter to reserve, every coach, the support staff … everyone bought in," said rising senior middle blocker Jennifer Cross. "When we went to NCAAs, I truly believed we were the best team in the country. Maybe other teams had superstars or more physical talent, but collectively, there was no program — six on the court, eight on the bench, coaches — better." For the next two weeks, and four matches, Cross was right. U-M beat the Volunteers 3-2 and the Cardinals 3-1. They found rival Michigan State, which had upset the Bruins, in their way, but swept the Spartans 3-0 before knocking off Stanford 3-1 in the Elite Eight to advance to the first Final Four in the volleyball program's 40-year history. "We were having so much fun," said rising senior outside hitter Lexi Erwin. "And the way we were scouting, practicing and preparing, I don't

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