Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Annual rivalry will test teams depth, composure on the road

October 3, 2001

When Michigan’s and MSU’s volleyball teams square off at 7 p.m. tonight at Michigan’s Cliff Keen Arena, it will be for more than in-state bragging rights.

For Spartan freshman outside hitter Kim Schram, it will be a matchup that exposes her parents’ true colors.

Schram’s mother, Cheryl, is a MSU alumna and her father, Robert, is a U-M alumnus.

Cheryl Schram will go into her closet today and pick out her favorite green and white ensemble.

And Robert Schram will change into some maize and blue garb that won’t fly with MSU head coach Chuck Erbe.

“I think we’re going to give him a hard time about that because he’s going to have to support his daughter,” Erbe said.

But the one thing tougher than choosing the right colors for tonight’s game, will be picking a winner.

Neither MSU or U-M has a decisive edge in this early conference matchup.

The Wolverines (5-5, 2-2 Big Ten) have suffered losses at Northwestern and Wisconsin before returning home to defeat Iowa and Minnesota last weekend.

Sound familiar? It should.

The Spartans (9-2, 2-2) opened conference play with losses at Wisconsin and Northwestern before returning home last weekend to defeat Minnesota and Iowa.

U-M head coach Mark Rosen expects another battle tonight.

“I think it’s going to be a good match,” Rosen said. “We both are fairly young, and we have similar strengths and weaknesses.

The key on the Spartan side of the net will again rest in the team’s passing and serving, Erbe said.

Junior outside hitter Kyla Smith said serving and passing have played pivotal roles in MSU’s early success.

“When we were winning our games (last weekend) all of our serving and passing was great,” she said.

“But when we started to get closer to Minnesota and Iowa, that was when our passing started to break down, and it showed in the scoring margins.”

And Erbe said Michigan excels at that part of the game.

But it’s still unknown who will carry out U-M’s game plans.

The Spartans aren’t sure who the Wolverines’ starting setter will be or who will anchor their attack.

“I honestly don’t know what lineup to expect out of them right now,” Erbe said.

“I think what they try to do is put the ball in the hands of the most successful hitter and if they find that we have a blocking deficiency, they will attack it.”

U-M has used both Lisa Gamalski and Shannon Melska as setters this season.

Rosen won’t reveal any new personnel decisions until game time.

With the uncertainties in U-M’s lineup, the most clear aspect of this rivalry is that fact that the winner will have to play a solid all-around game.

Erbe said the Spartans have a great chance to steal a victory.

“It seems we always flip-flop - they win on their court and we win on our court,” Erbe said.

“And I’d like to change that, and with this team we have the capability to do so.”

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