Spartans prepare for finals as well as Sweet 16 matchup
Members of the volleyball team cheer after scoring a point against Wisconsin on Nov. 10, 2012, at Jenison Field House. The Spartans are preparing for a Sweet 16 matchup in California later this week. Natalie Kolb/The State News
For many students, the upcoming finals week can be a stressful experience.
It will be a somewhat different experience for the MSU volleyball team, which plans to spend the week before finals three time zones away from East Lansing.
But that’s just the price of winning, as the Spartans are stationed in Berkley, Calif., awaiting their Sweet 16 matchup against in-state rival Michigan.
The Spartans, who advanced to the regional semifinal after toppling No. 7 UCLA, already were settled in Los Angeles for the NCAA Tournament’s first two rounds during the weekend.
The surprising factor, however, is that the team had no idea it was staying put in California until after its victory over the Bruins.
Sophomore libero Kori Moster said that the team was told during its celebration in the locker room after the win.
“We weren’t sure (if we were staying); that was something that had to be approved through administration,” Moster said. “(The decision) came to an opportunity to play our best volleyball, but also academic reasons because traveling that much would only let us be in a classroom for two class days.”
Moster remarked how tough it is to keep up with the workload, and said that some of her teammates have had to wake up at 7 a.m. to take proctored tests.
Even for the players who don’t have any tests this week, junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski said every player studies whenever there is free time in the day.
But the week hasn’t been all about hitting the books, as the team was rewarded with a day trip to Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean on Monday.
The team also visited the famed Rodeo Drive in LA before the tournament started, and Wicinski said that while the team is having a memorable trip, they still need to keep their minds on the ultimate goal: A Final Four.
“(It’s hard) because we need to stay focused, but we want to take in the experience, too,” Wicinski said.
As for experiences, the Spartans already have had some for the scrapbook, as they had a run-in with Romeo Miller, also known as Lil’ Romeo, on their trip.
The once-notable rapper and actor spotted the team and interacted with them on Twitter leading up to the team’s game against San Diego.
“It was really exciting,” junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews said. “And we all joked about how many (celebrities) we will see on the way there.”
The encounter didn’t just end after some of the players tweeted at him, as Mathews said Miller took advantage of the free tickets that the official MSU volleyball account offered to him for their match against San Diego, but only stayed for a set or two.
And although there is no telling where the team will go after this weekend, Wicinski has one guaranteed prediction.
“It’s going to be tough coming back because not only will we be tired, but we will have finals right when we get back, too.”