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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | Last updated: 2:42pm


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Volleyball returns home for weekend doubleheader




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Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski serves 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



Last time the MSU volleyball team played at home, the Detroit Tigers were in second place in the AL Central, the Spartan football team was in the top 25 and the first presidential debate was still more than a week away.

Let’s just say it’s been a while since the Spartans played in front of their home crowd at Jenison Field House.

The Spartans (15-3 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) don’t have to wait much longer, as they have back-to-back games at home against Northwestern (12-5, 1-5) and Illinois (8-9, 2-5).

“After two weekends on the road, it is exciting to get back with your fans cheering for you, and the band,” sophomore libero Kori Moster said. “They are all exciting to get back to”

The Spartans first greet the Wildcats on Friday, and after a heartbreak loss to Minnesota, MSU is looking to get back on track with a win. The Spartans also are seeking their first Big Ten weekend sweep on the season.

“I think it is really good that we are at least splitting weekends and that we are coming out of (the) weekend one win at a time,” Moster said. “At the same time, that is not our goal of what we want to do this season.”

The Wildcats, who started the season 11-0, since have lost five of their last six games. With a win, the Spartans won’t only push their Big Ten record above .500, but they also will tie up their all-time series record against Northwestern at 32 wins apiece.

After the Spartans battle the Wildcats, Illinois comes into East Lansing to take on MSU at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Fighting Illini will come into Spartan territory with four straight losses, three of which ended in five-set defeats. Illinois will be looking to avenge last season’s loss to the Spartans, with then-No. 7 Fighting Illini losing 3-1.

The Spartans will be looking to keep thriving on their Big Ten-best 1.7 service aces per set and second-best opponent hitting percentage of .165. A key player for the Spartans could be junior outside hitter and Big Ten points leader Lauren Wicinski, who averages 5.20 points per set.

On the defensive end, MSU will look at junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews, who is third in the Big Ten in blocks per set with 1.35. Moster has also been carrying some of the defensive load with 4.6 digs per set, which is third best in the Big Ten.

The Spartans kick off their weekend against the Wildcats at 6:30 p.m. on Friday; fans who wear their pajamas to raise awareness for childhood cancer get in for free.


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