Saturday, December 4, 2021

Spikers head to Purdue, Illinois

September 29, 2000
Freshman outside hitter Amy Sibbernsen celebrates during a recent game at Jenison Field House. —

The MSU volleyball team is on the road again this weekend for Big Ten games at Purdue and Illinois.

After a disappointing loss last Friday to then No. 25 Ohio State, the No. 20 Spartans can not afford to lose this weekend, said senior middle Jessica Sanborn.

“I think we have some making up to do,” she said. “We lost to Ohio State and we shouldn’t have. So now we have to beat somebody that we aren’t expected to beat.”

The Spartans are expected to beat the unranked Boilermakers and unranked Illini, but the games can be an important confidence builder for tougher teams such as No. 11 Penn State and No. 6 Minnesota, Sanborn said.

“We have to find our groove so we can get our season going,” she said. “We need to get some matches under our belt before we feel comfortable.”

MSU head coach Chuck Erbe said he likes to see the seniors unsatisfied with the loss to the Buckeyes because it shows leadership, but he added that MSU can’t overlook any Big Ten opponent.

“Look what happened to (then No. 3) Penn State this past weekend,” he said. “They lost in five to (unranked) Northwestern.”

Adding to Erbe’s worries is the return of senior outside hitter Sarah Gustin’s abdominal strain. He said it flared up again at Columbus and her condition for this weekend will be a game-time decision.

“For this weekend Sarah Gustin is questionable,” he said. “I’ll have to get a report to see what her status is going to be.”

If Gustin is able to play at all, Erbe said he will most likely split time between Gustin and freshman outside hitter Jenny Rood.

In that scenario, Gustin would play the back line and Rood would play the front line where the abdomen is under constant strain.

“All this week I’ve just been trying to get myself prepared,” Rood said. “Of course I’m happy to be playing, but I want Gus to get healthy, because that girl rocks.”

Erbe said Rood doesn’t have the experience that Gustin has, but she brings a lot of energy to the floor.

“She’s going to be a phenomenal player,” Erbe said. “There is absolutely no question in her athletic ability.”

Sanborn said it doesn’t matter what kind of Spartans hit the court this weekend. She said Erbe does a good job making sure every player is ready to play.

Gustin’s injury is important, but this weekend is about starting a new winning streak Sanborn said.

“A loss, what’s that?” she said. “We’re not going to lose this weekend, we can’t.”

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