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Friday, October 31, 2014


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Volleyball hits road for No. 1 Penn State, No. 13 Ohio State




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Senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, left, and senior middle blocker Alexis Mathews, right, go up for a block Sept. 20, 2013 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated Eastern Michigan in three straight sets. Khoa Nguyen/ The State News



With the overall strong preseason performance of the Big Ten conference, it’s been questioned just how good the No. 15 Spartans (11-1 overall) actually are.

A clearer picture will come to focus this weekend as the Spartans travel to take on No. 1 Penn State Friday and No. 13 Ohio State Sunday.

“We’re excited to get into this part of the season,” said senior setter Kristen Kelsay. “We know we have big challenges, not only this weekend, but the whole Big Ten season. We’re pretty motivated and excited to get going, and see what we’re made of.”

Starting off Big Ten season against No. 1 Penn State will be MSU’s biggest challenge yet.

The opportunity to start off with a major upset is a motivating factor for the team, according to Kelsay.

“How many times do you get to take down the No. 1 team in the country?” she asked. “That’s something that’s motivating, and it’s exciting, and we got our work cut our for us.”

The Spartans saw the season debut of freshman outside hitter Chloe Reinig and sophomore setter Halle Peterson last weekend during the Spartan Invitational.

The timing of their returns couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We saw on the court that we just felt whole again,” Reinig said at practice Wednesday. “It will be key against Big Ten season, definitely.”

Reinig, who initially was listed as a starter at the beginning of the season, will have to earn her spot back as she adjusts to the college game.

Reinig welcomes the challenge, acknowledging the transition into her role will help her become stronger.

For now, she’s glad she’s back playing volleyball. Saturday’s win against Duquesne was her first taste of collegiate volleyball.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “You could see, I was constantly smiling, just enjoying my time out there.”

Freshman middle blocker Allyssah Fitterer said it’ll be an adjustment with two players returning to the lineup. However, with the practice time they’ve gotten in over the past couple weeks, she believes it’ll be an easy transition.

“You can see just from the last game that they made such an impact being on the court,” Fitterer said. “I’m excited to see that.”

The absences of junior outside hitter Taylor Galloway, Reinig and Peterson at times during preseason play forced the team to use creativity in their lineups.

But with a fully healthy team, there will be inevitable adjustments to playing time as the season goes on.

“We have to be ready every week for different lineups, different changes we make based on the teams that we see,” Kelsay said. “I think that’s important, to stay mature with that, and to stay disciplined and stay tough.”

MSU will play at Penn State at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 2 p.m. at Ohio State on Sunday.


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