It’s pretty natural that on every team, some superstars
will be the glorified heroes. But their abilities and feats
wouldn’t shine so brightly without the roleplayers in the
background carrying the team to victory. The Michigan volleyball
team is no exception; senior powerhouses Lisa Gamalski and Jennifer
Gandolph are both enjoying record-setting seasons to cap two
sensational careers. But they overshadow another integral presence
on the court.

Michigan Volleyball
Michigan sophomore Erin Cobler had 13 kills Saturday against Purdue. (Mike Hulsebus/Daily)

Sophomore Erin Cobler has quietly racked up impressive
statistics this season sitting in the top three on the team in
kills (240), serving aces (18), attacks (588), and total points
(290). Cobler, a right-side player, isn’t exactly in a
position to produce such numbers, as the power usually comes from
the left side of an offense. Recruited as a blocking specialist,
Cobler set the national high school record for career blocks. Since
arriving in Ann Arbor, Cobler has expanded her game tremendously.
Michigan volleyball coach Mark Rosen, who recruited Cobler,
doesn’t downplay how big of a role she has on the team.

“She’s a great volleyball player,” Rosen said.
“Instead of being a specialty player, she can do it all. She
can hit, she can play defense, she can block and it’s made
her a very valuable player.”

Cobler seems to be concentrating on her attacking abilities.
Since coming out of high school, she has spent countless hours
working on her physical abilities, including her overall fitness
and strength.

“I try to work hard to bring more heat on the ball and to
become a thinking hitter,” Cobler said. “I try not to
just put the ball in play when I hit but to make smart shots. I
focus on not making errors and getting kills.”

Rosen likes to use Cobler by matching her up against the
opponent’s most dominant hitter. Cobler seems to love the
one-on-one competition with the opposing team’s top athlete.
She treats it as a mind game that is imperative for her to
control.

“When I’m confident in myself, I can make things
happen,” Cobler said. “I like getting into
opponents’ heads and making them do what I want them to
do.”

Cobler has become one of the steadiest, most consistent players
for the Wolverines. In her past two years of play, she has steadily
slipped under the radar as a key force on the Michigan side of the
net. Cobler has proved to be dependable — she provides a high
number of kills and a low number of errors on a nightly basis.
However, she may not be the standout player that catches
everyone’s eye, nor will she single-handedly take over a
game.

“I try to just be a steady player,” Cobler said.
“I try not to play outside myself, but to just be that
stabilizing person on the court. I don’t get the big kills
like the outsides do, so it’s not much of a flashy role. But
I try to be consistent.”

The Michigan volleyball team will have an opportunity to show
just how deep it is when it faces No. 5 Minnesota tonight at Cliff
Keen Arena.

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