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Spartans facing tough Big Ten road trip

October 14, 2005
MSU senior middle Brooke Langston, center, is congratulated by her teammates after scoring a point in Saturday's game against Illinois at Jenison Field House. The Spartans lost to the Illini in five games, 2-3.

Coming off a weekend in which it lost both its home matches, the MSU volleyball team won't find things any easier when they head on the road for two games against nationally-ranked opponents.

The Spartans (9-7 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) will kick off their two-game road trip tonight against No. 19 Ohio State (10-5 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) and then finish up tomorrow against No. 4 Penn State (15-2 overall, 6-0 Big Ten).

"It's going to be extremely competitive," MSU head coach Cathy George said.

"Penn State is a team that's in the top position in the Big Ten. Ohio State finished second in the Big Ten last year. They're very solid and very talented."

The games the Spartans have lost this year have all been decided by a few points. George knows her team can't afford to be sloppy, especially while playing top-ranked opponents positioning for postseason spots of their own.

"We're just battling everyday so we can put ourselves in a position to win the Big Ten tournament," George said. "The Big Ten generally puts seven teams in (the NCAA Tournament). We need to go out there and work really hard for any victories we can get."

MSU is currently tied for seventh in the Big Ten.

The Spartans might be shorthanded for these two games.

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Johnson was injured during the Illinois game last weekend after colliding with sophomore libero Nicole Colaluca. Johnson suffered a left arm injury, but expects to play tonight.

"I don't know if I got knocked silly but I remember it hurting really bad," Johnson said. "It's just questionable right now and it's not a big deal. I'm looking forward to playing this weekend."

When Johnson went down, George had to throw people in different positions, which exposed a problem on her bench.

"We do not have as many hitters," George said. "In the defensive roles we are quite deep but in the offensive roles we are not as deep."

Freshman middle blocker Erin Rice has also been suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed off-the-court incident, George said.

"We're just working on that day to day," George said.

Senior middle blocker Brooke Langston said despite the team's roster problems, this is a good opportunity to get back on the right track with wins.

"We're just going to go into this weekend with the mentality, 'Why not pull an upset this weekend? Why not take one away from them?'" Langston said.

"We're going to do what we can with what we have."

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