MSU volleyball earns top-25 ranking after sweeping Western Kentucky
The MSU volleyball team won their second tournament of the season Sept. 9-10 at the Western Kentucky Invitational. The team finished the weekend with a 3-0 record on the weekend and defeated the University of Cincinnati, Southern Illinois University, and host, then-No. 23 Western Kentucky University. The Spartans are now 8-1 on the season.
Spartans win the WKU Holiday Inn Invitational, its second Tournament win of the year. MSU now 8-1.— MSU Volleyball (@MichStVB) September 11, 2016
Juniors Alyssa Garvelink and Rachel Minarick led the way for the team, as they both earned all-tournament honors. Minarick, also a captain, was named the MVP of the invitational.
MSU comfortably put away their first opponent Cincinnati and swept in consecutive sets (25-15, 25-15, 25-16). They held large margins throughout the match, including a 15-6 edge during the second set.
Going into the second match, the Spartans faced Southern Illinois. While the Spartans did sweep their opponent for the second-straight game, they were met with more resistance.
That was evident in the score, as Southern Illinois made the overall game close (25-21, 25-22, 25-21). The Spartans finished strong every set, as they were down at some points throughout the match.
The final match for the Spartans looked to be their toughest, as they faced Western Kentucky on their home court. The two teams were highly competitive and the match went all five sets. MSU, however, emerged victorious and upset the Hilltoppers (27-29, 25-21, 25-19, 21-25, 15-11).
The Spartans were down 1-0 to start off as they dropped the first set. After winning the next two they lost the fourth one, setting up a critical fifth set. With the match going to a pivotal winner-take-all fifth set, the stakes were high as the victor would go on to win the entire invitational.
The back-and-forth game between the two was also evident through the 33 total ties and nine lead changes. Junior Abby Monson played well, as she had a season-high 17 digs in the match. Minarick also made her presence known, notching her first double-double of the year with 46 assists and 12 digs, adding six kills and two blocks as well.
The Spartans ranked No. 22 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association, or AVCA, National poll released Monday. In the previous three weeks, MSU received votes but was not ranked among the top 25 in the nation.
Currently, there are eight teams in the Big Ten Conference that are ranked in the top 25. The Big Ten also has a ninth team, the University of Illinois, receiving votes.
MSU will be in action once again this weekend in the Spartan Classic, their last non-conference tournament of the season. The Spartans will host at Jenison Field House.
MSU will welcome the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, DePaul University and Notre Dame University. The invitational will start at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 for MSU, when they will face Notre Dame. Then, they will play Maryland Eastern Shore at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 17 and DePaul at 6 p.m. that evening to wrap up the tournament.