Sunday, July 12, 2020

Weekend Sweep

Wins over Purdue, Illinois pace spikers to a 3-1 Big Ten record

October 2, 2000

After last weekend’s loss at Ohio State, the MSU women’s volleyball team rebounded with wins at Purdue and Illinois.

“It feels so good to come out of the weekend 2-0,” said MSU junior outside hitter Erin Hartley. “Especially in this conference, the Big Ten is really important to us.”

Competing for a Big Ten Championship is realistic, as the Spartans are only one game back, but consistency looms as the Spartans only question.

In four Big Ten matches this season, MSU has won two five-game matches with two triple-double performances, lost a four-game match to the Buckeyes after dominating game one and breezed by Purdue in three straight games.

MSU head coach Chuck Erbe said the inconsistency worries him, but he added the Spartans are 3-1 in the Big Ten.

“It’s not how you play, it’s whether you get the W,” he said. “Sure, I would like to see us play with a great deal more consistency. That’s a concern of mine.

“As long as we keep playing up and down we’re vulnerable. That kind of inconsistency can be your Achilles heel when you play against a team that says, ‘You want to give us the match, we’ll take the match.’”

That’s exactly what happened last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. MSU started strong, but errors flooded in and the passing broke down.

Against Illinois Saturday, the Spartans again dominated game one (15-2), but then fell apart in game two (4-15).

Not willing to let another game slip away, the Spartans rallied to steal two of the next three games (15-13, 6-15, 15-12).

Hartley said it’s a mental challenge not to crumble in the face of adversity. She added, how a team responds to that situation is what make the difference between an average team and a good team.

“It doesn’t really matter too much about the other team getting back in the game,” Hartley said. “We kept fighting and we wouldn’t back down.”

Senior outside hitter Sarah Gustin said MSU worked on communication all last week in practice and it paid off against the Illini.

“Coming back and playing the way that we did as a team really did a lot for our morale,” she said. “It made us trust each other more.”

Having the endurance to play every point of the five-game match was a positive note for Gustin, who has an abdominal strain.

After seeing doctors last week, Gustin was assured the strain was a structural problem and not an injury to any internal organs.

Gustin said that was a relief and now she can go full force, not worrying about any serious injury.

“It feels really good,” she said. “It’s sore, but it’s a lot better than it was last weekend. It’s just something that’s going to linger for a while.”

Erbe said Gustin isn’t 100 percent. He said she’ll ease into practice this week and slowly work up to full speed.

“I’ve seen her hit a lot harder,” Erbe said. “Every now and then this season you’ll see her rocket one, but it’s not a consistent thing.”

Erbe said the doctors gave her simple workouts to help her body adjust and she’ll just have to tolerate the discomfort.

The Spartans will get the chance to silence the consistency questions about Friday, as No. 11 Penn State comes to Jenison Field House.

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