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Posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Michigan volleyball team heads to NCAA tournament, duo earns All-Big Ten honors

By Matt Durr

After battling through the Big Ten schedule the Michigan volleyball team opens the NCAA tournament on Friday with a match against Baylor.

Michigan, which struggled in October — going 2-7 in matches — enters the NCAA tournament with a 20-12 record. The match against Baylor starts at 7:30 p.m. in Palo Alto, Calif.

“We’re extremely excited about the draw we got,” said freshman Lexi Dannemiller. “It’s really fair.”

Michigan coach Mark Rosen says the Wolverines have a shot going forward because the team is finally whole again.

“We’re healthy and that has been a struggle for us,” Rosen said. “Baylor is a good team, but if we play well, we have a fair chance.”

Michigan had success playing in Stanford’s gym. The Wolverines reached the elite eight in 2009 when they traveled to Palo Alto and defeated Stanford.

“We’re looking forward to going back,” Rosen said.

The Wolverines left for California on Wednesday and will have a couple of days to adjust before their match. Dannemiller doesn’t expect the long-distance travel to be an issue.

“We’ve been working on being prepared as best we can. I think we’ll be fine,” Dannemiller said.

Senior outside hitter Alex Hunt was named an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten team. Despite battling injuries, Hunt has been a standout player.

“This has been a tough year for her,” Rosen said. “She’s been playing her best volleyball all year over the last two to three weeks. We’re very proud of her.”

Rosen said Hunt will be in the lineup for the match against Baylor.

Dannemiller was selected to the all-freshman team, becoming the seventh player in program history to earn the honor.

“Obviously, I have personal goals for myself, but I didn’t know I would be a starting setter at the start of the year,” Dannemiller said. “Getting this honor is really great.”

Dannemiller led the Big Ten in total assists with 1,394 and finished second in assists per set with 11.62. She started in all 32 matches.

“It’s a great recognition for her, she’s had a great season,” Rosen said. “It’s well deserved.”

Rosen added that he hopes this is just a stepping stone as her career progresses at Michigan. Dannemiller was quick to point out that her individual accomplishment wouldn’t be possible if not for her teammates.

“I couldn’t be a freshmen setter without my teammates getting kills,” Dannemiller said.

One teammate in particular, Karlee Bruck, has served as a sort of mentor for Dannemiller. Dannemiller said it’s been helpful to have someone to talk to that has gone through the same difficulties.

“She’s been really great to me.”

Women’s basketball teams streaking early

Both the Eastern Michigan and Michigan women’s basketball teams have started the season strong, going 5-1 and 7-0, respectively.

Earlier in the week, the Wolverines won the Reef Division of the Paradise Jam tournament held in the Virgin Islands. Senior Courtney Mercier was named the most valuable player of the division, and the 7-0 record ties a program record for best start to a season.

Led by senior Tavelyn James, the Eagles have won three straight on the road. The Eagles finish a five-game road trip with a visit to Michigan State on Saturday before returning home.

Michigan hockey losing streak continues

The U-M hockey team has lost four consecutive games and has one win in its last eight contests. Defense has been a weak point for the Wolverines as they’ve surrendered 18 goals in the last four games after giving up just 25 in the first 12.

The Wolverines look to end the streak when they head to Fairbanks, Alaska for back-to-back matchups against the Alaska Nanooks on Friday and Saturday. Michigan has yet to win a game in regulation on the road this season, going 0-2-2 away from Yost Arena.

Upcoming home schedule:


Michigan men’s basketball - noon vs. Iowa State at Crisler Arena


Michigan women’s basketball - 2 p.m. vs. Iowa State at Crisler Arena

Eastern Michigan wrestling - 2 p.m. vs. Ohio at Bowen Field House