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Spartans need some magic to keep season alive

November 18, 2005

With four games remaining in its Big Ten regular season, the MSU volleyball team is hoping for a fairy tale ending.

The Spartans (12-14 overall, 5-11 Big Ten) have been struggling to find their groove, but a win over Indiana last weekend showed they're not giving up on the season just yet.

The Spartans will look to continue their success on the road when they take on Northwestern (16-10, 7-9) and nationally-ranked Wisconsin (19-6, 1-5) this weekend.

MSU beat Northwestern in five sets back on Oct. 22, but since then the two teams have gone in different directions. Northwestern is currently riding on a four-game winning streak, including a win over then-No. 17 Minnesota.

"They have been just coming out strong," MSU head coach Cathy George said. "It's very important that we come out sharp. We need to serve aggressively and put pressure on them. Obviously we know that they're going to come at us strong, so we need to be prepared for that."

On the other hand, MSU has lost four of its six matches since that win.

George said one of her challenges this year is the team's depth.

"We haven't had a lot of flexibility with our numbers and depth in each position and it's been challenging," she said. "Injuries, although not major, have compromised our training and compromised the way we would like to add to our level."

In practice, George said nothing has changed in terms of what the team has been working on. But she admits she would like to make their game plan more of a mystery to opposing teams.

"We're adding components to our system so we can become less predictable," she said.

As far as hope of making it to the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans are still crossing their fingers and hoping that the season ends as planned.

"We have to win three of the next four to be in the tournament," George said.

Even though the Spartans haven't seen the most success this season, George said the team is still giving it their all every night.

"We're playing as well as we possibly can," George said. "I think the fun comes from that. We go out to try to win every night and not every team cooperates with us. We want to go out with everything we have."

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