Saturday, December 4, 2021

Freshmen find ways to win over Purdue

November 6, 2000

With nicknames like “Energizer bunny” and “Rudy” it’s obvious freshman outside hitter Jenny Rood and the rest of the freshmen bring something extra to the court when the MSU volleyball team plays.

MSU head coach Chuck Erbe said the freshmen are more expressive on the court and that’s something the Spartans have been missing the last few years.

“I think the freshmen are much more emotional in terms of how they express their passion for the game,” he said. “That’s not to say the seniors don’t have passion, but their personalities are different.”

With Rood and freshman outside hitter Amy Sibbernsen both starting, they are an intricate part of MSU volleyball. Erbe said both players continue to grow and mature every game.

Against Illinois on Friday, Rood set career highs in kills with 21 and hitting percentage with .378. However, it’s the freshmen’s endless excitement that provides sparks for the Spartans, Erbe said.

“When I’m on the floor I don’t think about it,” Rood said. “It’s just the way I play. After people do something awesome I don’t realize I’m jumping in the air until after I do it.”

It’s those actions that earned Rood the “Energizer bunny” nickname earlier this season.

Even senior outside hitter Sarah Gustin, normally the quiet leader, had an extra bounce in her step after making a big play Saturday against Purdue.

“The freshmen on the court have been very influential,” she said.

It was Gustin who first tabbed Rood “Rudy” after Saturday’s win over the Boilermakers.

Erbe said it’s important to have a proper mixture of players on the floor. He said if the mixture is off the energy level drops.

“When we have a collective personality that’s inward, it’s hard to have enthusiasm on the floor,” he said. “What the freshmen have done is create a different mix. I think that lifts the spirits of the other players.”

Rood is hesitant to take any credit, adding the seniors make the freshmen feel welcome. She said during the Purdue game, Gustin let her know when she made a mistake and told her how to fix it.

“When I made stupid mistakes, Sarah was on my butt,” she said. “I was like, ‘Nope, not going to do that again,’ and the next time I got it right.

“The senior leadership just skyrocketed. Literally, those girls stepped up big time and they were so into it.”

With such talented and energizing freshmen, Erbe said MSU volleyball has a good nucleus of players assembled for the next three years.

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