The unranked University of Michigan Wolverines Women’s volleyball team took down state rivals Michigan State 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 26-24) and No. 2 Stanford with a 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-20) to secure their first ever Final Four appearance.
Canada’s own Jen Cross (Scarborough, Ont.) has been a key piece in the Wolverines success this year, and this weekend was no different. The 3rd-year middle contributed with 12 kills and six blocks against Michigan State, then followed it up with a 15 kill performance, and added an astonishing 9 digs on Saturday night against Stanford. She was named to the Berkeley All-Regional team after the match.
The Wolverines have been the surprise of the NCAA tournament, having had the toughest route of the four teams remaining. After finishing 6th in the Big10 with a record of 11-9 (27-11 overall), the unseeded Wolverines over came a tough Tennessee team that many had pick to go far, 3-2, in their first match of the tournament, then take on No. 10 Louisville, the Final Four host, and handled them 3-1 in front of their home crowd.
Michigan then travelled all the way to California to take on familiar faces, and State rivals, Michigan State, who had defeated No. 7 and defending champs UCLA the week before. The Maize and Blue rolled through their rivals 3-0 to set up a match against No. 2 Stanford, the PAC-12 champions and a favourite by many to win the tournament. The Wolverines, undaunted even after a first set loss, seemed to be in control throughout the rest of the match, taking the next tree sets and securing their first spot in the Final Four in program history.
Cross’ contributions to her team have not gone un-noticed. She led the team this year a .321 percentage, was second in the Big10 with 1.28 blocks/set, and averaged 2.62 kills/set. She was named the Big10 player of the week on October 15th after a match against Illinois in which she recorded 14 kills and seven blocks. The Scarborough native was also one of three Wolverines to be honoured with a All-Big10 Team selection. She was also the only Wolverine to be named to the All-Midwest Regional team after their First and Second round wins in Louisville. Her accolades aren’t reserved for the court only; she was also named to the Big10-All Academic team for the second year in a row.
Cross has also suited up in the Red and White on numerous occasions. In 2008, she was a part of the Junior National team that finished 5th at the NORCECA Junior Women’s Championships in Saltillo, Mexico. This past summer, she also trained with Senior National Women’s team as a member of the brand new squad.
She’s also represented Canada on the beach, playing in the 2009 21U Junior World Championships in Blackpool, England. Next up was the 2010 19U Youth World Championships in Porto, Portugal where she took a 9th with Melissa Humana-Paredes. In 2011, she took the leap to the World Tour when she competed at the FIVB Quebec Jeep Open.
Whether it’s on the court or the beach, we’re sure to be seeing Jen Cross a lot in the future. If you’d like to see her in action before that though, be sure to check out Volleyball Source Magazine’s NCAA Championships page for all the streaming options when her and her Michigan Wolverines take on No. 3 Texas, Friday December 14th at 7:00 p.m. EST.