“Get serious” was the cry throughout Cliff Keen Arena Tuesday during Michigan volleyball practice.
Having won three tournaments and five matches in a row, it seems as if the Wolverines (8-3) are in no need of a rallying cry. Coach Mark Rosen, however, begs to differ.
“We didn’t play nearly to the level we are capable of last weekend,” Rosen said. “I think we could have played better.”
Despite going out and defeating Valparaiso and Central Michigan to capture the Michigan/Nike Challenge last weekend, Rosen was still not pleased with his team’s performance.
“We have certain expectations offensively and with ball control, defense and blocking,” Rosen said. “We didn’t accomplish all of those goals.”
Helping the Wolverines get serious is freshman Megan Bowman, who has made an immediate impact on the team. Bowman has been a starter in nine of the team’s 11 matches, and currently leads the team in blocks.
The transition from high school volleyball to the college ranks has been difficult for the freshman, although it certainly does not show when she is on the floor.
“In the beginning it was a little rough,” Bowman said. “(College volleyball) is a lot faster-paced and more intense than high-school volleyball.”
The Wolverines are lucky to have Bowman, as the St. John, Ind. native had to choose between the possibility of sitting on the bench for Michigan, or playing right away for the Hoosiers.
She knew what she had to do in the long run, and it is already paying off in September.
“I wanted to play for a team that would actually win,” Bowman said.
Rosen has definitely noticed the strong play of his emerging freshman.
“She’s getting better with every match,” he said. “But there are still times where she is a little overloaded and overwhelmed.”
Michigan’s strong core of senior leadership has helped keep Bowman from getting too overwhelmed early in the season.
“The seniors kind of control the floor when we’re out there,” Bowman said. “Lisa Gamalski keeps everyone calm and fired up at the same time.”
Gamalski’s calm demeanor on the floor will be a necessity this weekend, as the Wolverines will face Ohio State and No. 12 Penn State at home to open up the Big Ten season.
Rosen feels that the quality of play of Michigan’s opponents is only going to increase from here on out, and that his squad needs to execute a balanced offense in order to be successful this weekend.
“I feel good about where we are right now,” Rosen said. “We’re ready to go into the Big Ten … It’s the best volleyball conference in the country.”