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Spartans hit road for two games

November 8, 2002

The MSU volleyball team doesn’t like being in the middle of the Big Ten standings, and players said this is a great weekend to do something about that.

The Spartans (15-7 overall, 7-5 Big Ten) are stuck in fifth place, but a pair of wins would bump them up in the conference.

Three teams, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State, are all just one game ahead of the Spartans with 8-4 marks in the Big Ten.

“Right now, there is kind of a jumble of people in the middle of the Big Ten,” junior outside hitter Jenny Rood said. “And this weekend is going to be huge for us because this will separate us from that jumble and put us near the top.”

Prior to a split last week, the Spartans were in a three-way tie for third place, but the 1-1 weekend record dropped MSU behind the pack.

This weekend, MSU will look to gain ground when they travel to Bloomington, Ind., and Columbus, Ohio, to take on Indiana (16-8, 6-6) and Ohio State(11-10, 5-7).

Going into the match, the Spartans are coming off a thrilling five-game win over then-No. 11 Penn State. Redshirt freshman middle Brooke Langston said MSU will bring that momentum into the weekend.

“I think it will carry over,” Langston said.

“I think this will be a great weekend to continue the success we’ve had.”

First up on the agenda is Indiana. MSU beat Indiana easily earlier this season.

The Spartans pulled off a 31-29, 30-25 and 30-18 victory on Oct. 5. It was MSU’s eighth straight win over Indiana and 17th of the last 18 in the series dating back to 1993.

But players said the bigger challenge awaits on Saturday. The Spartans square off against Ohio State, the team predicted to take home the Big Ten crown in the preseason.

On Oct. 4, the Spartans edged the Buckeyes in a hard-fought performance. The Spartans outlasted a wounded Ohio State team in five games, 30-27, 23-30, 30-28, 26-30 and 17-15.

The Buckeyes have been battling injuries all season and are just starting to get healthy. The catalyst of the offense, setter Katie Virtue, is back in the lineup, and the senior has been helping Ohio State climb back up the Big Ten ladder.

Following a 0-5 start in conference play, the Buckeyes have won five of seven Big Ten contests.

Nevertheless, Rood says rankings and Big Ten standings aside, only one thing is important - winning.

“If we play our game, I have no doubt that our team can get the job done,” she said.

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