Michigan volleyball coach Mark Rosen figured his team was in
Rosen sat courtside at the Manhattan College Invitational on
Friday evening scouting the Wolverines’ upcoming opponents.
Earlier in the afternoon, Michigan beat the Hawks of
Maryland-Eastern Shore 3-0 and now Rosen was watching Manhattan,
the host team, battle American University. As he watched, Rosen
noticed American’s athleticism and knew that the Eagles would
be tough to cage.
“I thought when we watched (American) play on Friday, we
were going to have a tough time competing with them (on Saturday)
unless we got a lot better,” Rosen said.
Rosen felt Michigan could improve dramatically from Friday
afternoon’s win over the Hawks in the first match of the
“As a team, I didn’t think we played very well
(against Maryland-Eastern Shore),” Rosen said. “I just
thought we made a lot of errors, gave up a lot of free points, just
not very sharp.”
So how would the Wolverines react?
By breaking a 12-year-old record. Then, defeating American in
the title game, 3-1.
Before the championship-game against the Eagles, Michigan set a
school-record .525 hitting percentage in its 3-0 victory over
Manhattan on Saturday afternoon. Its previous high was a .524
effort against Iowa in 1991.
Rosen altered his line-up for the Jaspers, giving the veterans
more playing time. Rosen said the change allowed senior Jennifer
Gandolph to be more productive — she led the Wolverines with
12 kills and committed just one attack error.
After the win against Manhattan, Rosen felt like
Michigan’s “process” — how the team
executed and played during the match — was much stronger
against Manhattan than it had been against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
As the Wolverines huddled before the title match, Rosen emphasized
to his team that the process is always more important than
statistics or outcomes. Outcomes — like the 3-0 win against
the Hawks — can sometimes be deceiving if the process is not
And, once again, Rosen was right.
After dropping the first game to American, the Wolverines
rebounded with improved serving and defense in game two despite the
Eagles’ extremely efficient play.
“(American) hit .378 in game two and we still beat
them,” Rosen said. “When you hit .378 in a game,
you’re pretty sure you’re going to win.”
Tied at 1-1, Michigan played its best volleyball of the young
season in games three and four, defeating the Eagles 30-22 and
30-27 to win the championship.
Senior Lisa Gamalski earned Tournament MVP honors. In the
decisive match, Gamalski recorded 54 assists and 14 digs —
the first double-double of Michigan’s 4-0 season.
“Lisa had a great tournament,” Rosen said.
“This is her fifth year in the program and she really is one
of the best setters out there. She really had to figure out how to
make this team go, and I really thought she did a great
Gandolph earned All-Tournament Team honors despite off-season
shoulder surgery, notching 40 kills in three games.
On the team bus back to the airport, a day after the
record-setting match took place, Rosen was informed of the
accomplishment and then told his team.
“Oh, that’s kind of nice,” Rosen said to
himself, prouder of the process than the outcome.