Injuries and inconsistent play have forced MSU volleyball head coach Chuck Erbe to make unexpected lineup changes the last two weeks.
Two starters have been sidelined with injuries and an abundance of serving errors have prompted Erbe to make substitutions, including substituting players only to serve.
Erbe said a positive note the last two weeks is the play of freshman outside hitter Jenny Rood. She became a starter after freshman outside hitter Amy Sibbernsen sprained her ankle in practice on Oct. 5.
Every match that shes played, shes improved, he said. Shes getting smarter on the court and her skills have improved.
I knew that would happen. In our physical testing, she tested out number two on the team.
Rood set career highs in kills (16), digs (18) and block solos (two) Saturday in Evanston, Ill. as MSU defeated Northwestern (7-15, 15-10, 15-10, 15-8).
Rood said her 10 service errors on the weekend and the teams loss at Wisconsin (9-15, 12-15, 15-13, 6-15) overshadowed her statistics.
I thought I had too many service errors, she said. I need to work on that. Im just going to continue working on my overall game.
In the Wisconsin match, MSUs season-long problem with service errors reached its high - the Spartans committed 21.
Erbe has expressed frustration with the lack of focus on serves all season. Against the Badgers, he regularly replaced players on their serve.
If people dont serve aggressively, they wont serve until I run out of substitutions, he said. Thats the way its going to be.
You dont perform, you dont play. You perform, you play.
Erbe said MSU has been spending a lot of practice time on serving. He said the serving effort against the Badgers was unacceptable.
On Saturday the Spartans lost their second starter to injury when senior middle hitter Jessica Sanborn broke her left foot during warm-up.
Erbe said he wont know how long Sanborn will be out until more tests are done today.
The Spartans started the season with four middle hitters, but are down to two since freshman Naomi Taylor is having rotator-cuff problems and Sanborn is out. Two middle hitters start every match.
Right now, (redshirt junior) Maren Witzel is going into (Sanborns) position, Erbe said. Our middles are (redshirt sophomore) Angela (Morley) and Maren. Thats it.
Morley said the injuries have hit the team all at once. She said everyone will need to step up to fill the voids.
Youve got to work through it, she said. We have players on the bench that can step it up any night. It was important before, but now I need to play well every night.
Against the Wildcats, Morley hit .529 with 11 kills and eight blocks.
To deal with the lack of depth at middle, Erbe said hes talked with Rood about making a move from the outside to the middle. Exactly how and when MSU addresses the problem depends on the extent of Sanborns injury, he said.
Ive talked to (Rood) about it and shes not opposed, Erbe said. She certainly has the quickness and athletic ability to play middle. I just dont know if its something I want to do right now.
Service errors aside, Erbe said he was pleased with the teams weekend performance. He said MSU needs to find a way to maintain the weekends intensity in practice.
Its something youve got to practice every day.