The MSU womens volleyball team brings a two-match winning streak to Jenison Field House this weekend for Big Ten games against Penn State and Indiana.
The No. 12 Nittany Lions, defending Big Ten and National Champions, have beaten the No. 19 Spartans the last seven matches.
An MSU victory tonight would be the first win against Penn State since 1996.
Penn State has a good past history, senior outside hitter Jessica Sanborn said. Hopefully well be more focused and come out on top. It would be the first time in my career to beat them.
After losing unexpectedly to Ohio State, Sanborn said the Spartans would have to pull off an upset down the road to compensate - this is MSUs first chance.
Head coach Chuck Erbe said Penn State is not the same dominating team of past years. With a record of 1-3 in Big Ten play, the Lions are tied for sixth in the Big Ten with the Hoosiers, while the Spartans are tied for third with a 3-1 Big Ten record.
Erbe said hes telling his team to compete against the players wearing the jerseys, not the Penn State name on the jerseys. He said there is no question the Spartans have the talent to beat Penn State - they just need to play to win.
The players that have been in the Final Four three out of the last four years and have won three straight Big Ten Championships are gone, he said. If we have our mental focus correct and play the player inside the jerseys, I think we have a great opportunity to beat Penn State.
Erbe said the coaching staff is concerned with how the Spartans will come out and play Saturday against Indiana after tonights big game against the Lions.
Weve got to be prepared to play both nights, Erbe said. Saturday night, youve got to put Friday night behind you. Its going to require a great deal of emotional maturity on our players.
Erbe said the home advantage of cheering fans should give the Spartans an extra boost this weekend.
I think the fans are going to be critical this weekend, he said. Theres nothing like the atmosphere thats created from fan energy.
Tonights game against the Lions begins at 8 p.m. and Saturdays game against the Hoosiers starts at 7 p.m at Jenison Field House.