Anxiety, nerves and a faint silence encompassed the room filled with members of the MSU volleyball team as they awaited the start of the NCAA volleyball selection show on Sunday.
The anxious feeling quickly went away, as it was revealed that MSU (23-9 overall, 11-9 Big Ten) will be traveling to Los Angeles to take on San Diego (21-6, 13-3 West Coast Conference) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans will be sent out to LA to play in the defending national champion UCLA’s home arena, Pauley Pavilion.
“We were all trying to make little guesses, but you never really know at that point,” sophomore libero Kori Moster said. “It’s a lot of unknowns, but it’s an excitement just getting ready to see where you’re going to go in the country.”
UCLA earned the right to host its first and second rounds since it grabbed the tournament’s No. 7 seed, good enough to make it one of the 16 host schools for the opening rounds.
Traveling to LA is exciting for the team, but junior setter Kristen Kelsay couldn’t help thinking about the physical toll it takes to travel to the West Coast.
“You have to think about the physicalness of flying cross-country,” Kelsay said. “It’s exciting on one point, but at some times, you wish you would be closer to home.”
The Toreros finished their season winning four of their last five games, including topping No. 16 BYU in the season finale. And other than the basic information, the Spartans admittedly don’t know too much about the West Coast team, head coach Cathy George said.
But after 26 years in the coaching ranks, George predicts that they will run into a defensive team that will carry great ball control, but junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski doesn’t seem too concerned about the geographical style of play.
“I haven’t really played (out west), but I think volleyball is volleyball,” Wicinski said. “You still have to bump it, set it and spike it.”
If the Spartans can move past the Toreros, they will play the winner of the UCLA-LIU Brooklyn match.
The Spartans kick off their tournament run 8:30 p.m. Friday in Los Angeles.