For the MSU volleyball team, this weekend holds one focus — to get revenge against Northwestern and Illinois.
Unlike the last couple of weekends, the Spartans (21-7 overall, 9-7 Big Ten) won’t have to go through top-10 ranked teams this weekend to accomplish that goal. As a matter of fact, the path of revenge for the Spartans will be easier road to travel, as both the Fighting Illini and Wildcats have had their struggles of late.
The Spartans, who lost to Illinois in five sets earlier in the season, anticipate a hostile environment in Champaign, Ill. on Friday night. Head coach Cathy George said that Illinois boasts a big crowd for their games, and also has one of the best student sections in the Big Ten.
“They are going come at us very hard Friday night,” George said. “We’re going to have to go in there with an attack mentality and be ready to earn every point that we get.”
The Fighting Illini also will be battling for their NCAA Tournament lives, as George presumes they will need to win their four remaining games to have a chance to make the Big Dance. Junior setter Kristen Kelsay, an Illinois native, looks to turn the tables against Illinois to end their tournament dreams.
“We have an intensity of ‘look what they did to us at home’, and now we have to go right back and take (the match) from them,” Kelsay said.
On Saturday, the Spartans will head to Evanston, Ill. to avenge a loss that displayed sloppy play by MSU. Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski believes that the Spartan team that Northwestern will see this weekend will be a 180 degree shift from what they saw last month.
“The season isn’t consistent; it goes up and down, and I think that (game against Northwestern) was one of our down points, but now we are having our up points,” Wicinski said.
The script will be flipped against Northwestern, as the Wildcats are experiencing their low point of the season by carrying a season-high four-game losing streak into the weekend. Although the Wildcats have had their recent struggles, George said that there will be an obstacle going into the game. This obstacle, however, won’t come from any of the players on the court; it will come from the atmosphere off the court.
“Northwestern is the opposite (of Illinois); they have a very quiet gym and you have to create your own energy,” George said.
The Spartans look to extend their four-game winning streak against Illinois at 8 p.m. Friday in Champaign, Ill.