Volleyball hits road for crucial double-header
Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Galloway hits the ball during the game against Purdue on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The Spartans lost 3-2, which was their first loss of the season. Julia Nagy/The State News
The MSU volleyball team looks to get its first pair of consecutive Big Ten wins this week, as the team travels to its third and fourth consecutive road games.
The No. 25 Spartans (14-2 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) head to Madison, Wis., to take on the Badgers (13-4, 1-3) on Friday and then head one state over to play No. 10 Minnesota (13-3, 4-1) on Saturday.
The Spartans, who have had five occasions where they play on consecutive days, are seasoned veterans when it comes to staying focused for back-to-back games.
“We really don’t have a choice, you have to be focused for (back-to-back games) if you want to survive in this league,” head coach Cathy George said.
“It’s part of the maturation process of an athlete in the Big Ten.”
George, who said that the team has prepared for both teams simultaneously throughout the week, is looking to finish the team’s four-game road trip strong.
The Spartans start the weekend against a Wisconsin team that has lost its last three games, including one to No. 1 Penn State. George said that she hopes to carry over the team’s rhythm from the Iowa game, but warns that the team must stay focused for the entire match.
“(We had) good rhythm in sets one and two, but I thought we got a little fat and sassy in game three; we didn’t come out as sharp as we needed to,” George said when talking about the Iowa game.
Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, who is second in the nation in aces per set with 0.63, believes the momentum the team gained after its win against Iowa will give the team a boost this weekend.
“I think you always come off of a little momentum after a win, so that will help coming into this weekend,” Wicinski said.
MSU looks to use its many strength this weekend to shoot up in the Big Ten rankings, where they currently sit in fifth.
The Spartans currently lead the conference in service aces, with 1.72 per set, and in kills, with 14.87 per set.
The Spartans also are third in the conference in hitting percentage, .309, and hold opponents to a .152 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews helps out the Spartans with her nation’s fifth-best .459 hitting percentage.
Regardless of who steps up for the Spartans, the team will find a renewed spark to its season with two wins this weekend. Senior outside hitter Amy Dentlinger, who had four blocks in the win against Iowa, sees this game as a way to gain a spot on the national stage and secure a pair of big wins for her team.
“Every weekend, we have been 1-1; to get that 2-0 in one weekend would put an exclamation point on what we want to prove to everyone,” Dentlinger said.