Michigan volleyball player Megan Bowman visited three schools before coming to Ann Arbor. But when she got here, she felt like “everything just fit.”

Jessica Boullion
Megan Bowman has struggled with an ankle injury this season. The senior has begun her comeback returning to practice this week. She hopes to help Michigan reach the NCAA tournament with a strong end to the season. (BEN SIMON/Daily)

Now, the puzzle has an extra piece the senior doesn’t want – an ankle injury.

“There’s nothing worse than having to miss out on any part of year, especially your senior year,” said Rosen, who missed most of his senior year while playing volleyball for Cal State-Northridge. “I certainly feel for her. . It’s really frustrating as a senior because it’s your last go around. When you envision your senior year, and everybody does, that’s not what you envision.”

Bowman suffered her injury in practice about two weeks ago. She has yet to return to the lineup, and the team has gone 1-3 since.

“It kind of stinks, watching from the side,” Bowman said. “Just in the Big Ten, it’s the last time I’ll be able to do it. I’m just watching my senior year go by, so that kind of stinks.”

Tuesday was Bowman’s first day back at practice.

Bowman was hard on herself about her performance, only saying “I’ve had better.”

“As an athlete, they expect that ‘Hey, I’m back. I should be right where I left off,’ ” Rosen said. “I don’t think it’s very realistic. . It’s not going to come the very first day, especially when she’s trying to accelerate the process. She’s probably not 100-percent ready to go back in, but I think she wants to graduate herself back in as quickly as possible.”

Rosen wasn’t the only one impressed with Bowman’s practice.

“I thought she would be sort of taking it easy because it was her first practice back,” fifth-year senior Erin Penn said. “She was calling for the ball and telling Stesha (Selsky) to set her. She was making some really good digs when were doing a digging drill. She was ready to go, and she played really well.”

Bowman is familiar with injuries, but not with sitting out because of them. When she had shoulder surgery before both her freshman and junior years, she did not miss any playing time.

Rosen isn’t sure if Bowman will play this weekend at Illinois and Northwestern. Even though he liked how she practiced Tuesday, there is no way to tell if she would be ready to play because of potential swelling.

But he did say that if she is ready to play he might use her in a different capacity than the full-time middle blocker role she has played all season. She could play on the right side, where she wouldn’t have to move as much, play in a limited blocking role, or go in for a left side and play middle blocker, while Lyndsay Miller moves to the outside.

Although Michigan beat the Illini and Wildcats earlier this season, the teams both sit one game ahead of eighth place Michigan (3-7 Big Ten, 16-7 overall) in the Big Ten standings. Winning both games this weekend would go a long way toward moving into the top six of the conference. At least six Big Ten teams have made the NCAA tournament in each of the last nine years.

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