Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fresh faces help MSU

October 28, 2005
Sophomore outside hitter Katie Johnson spikes the ball during the Spartans' 3-2 victory over the Northwestern wildcats last Saturday. The victory broke a five-game conference losing streak and the Spartans face Illinois and Purdue this weekend on the road.

The MSU women's volleyball team wasn't pleased with the first half of its season and will be looking to turn it around. After ending their five-game losing streak by beating Northwestern on Saturday, the Spartans will be on the road playing Illinois and No. 16 Purdue this weekend.

The Spartans (10-10 overall, 3-7 Big Ten) dropped matches to both Purdue (18-3, 7-3) and Illinois (11-10, 2-8) earlier this season.

MSU head coach Cathy George said playing both teams a second time around is a plus.

"It's the first time we will play a team (twice)," she said. "It's great because we're able to watch the matches from the previous time and we get a chance to learn from our mistakes.

"It helps to prepare you visually as a team and you get to remember this player and what they did."

The team is now back at full strength, George said. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Johnson is back to health after injuring her left arm during the first Illinois game. She said her arm was sore against Northwestern, but she still ended the game with a .333 hitting percentage.

Johnson said it's refreshing to get back in the win column.

"It's always good to get a win under your belt. It kind of gives us momentum going into this weekend."

While Johnson was out, it allowed George to use her bench more, giving freshman defensive specialist Melany Rarey a chance to shine.

Rarey said while sitting on the bench, she would always say to herself how she really wanted to be in the game. She finally had a chance to shake off the rust and made her first appearance during the Ohio State game Oct. 14.

"Cathy was like, 'You ready?,' and I was like, 'Heck yeah,'" Rarey said.

"When at first I wasn't playing it was really hard, because in high school I was always playing. Now that I'm playing that's like my motivation, like I don't want to be back on (the bench)."

Rarey said she played every position in high school but now George is training her as a defensive specialist.

George said the team is ready for the second half of the season.

"I think our offense is flowing a little bit better and we're feeling a little bit more balance then we have," George said. "Due to the Katie Johnson injury, we have been able to identify other players that we may need in different roles."

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