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Hopeful spikers look to take winning streak into tournament

November 26, 2007


The MSU volleyball team will head to Dayton, Ohio to face Kentucky in round one of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

The squad received an at-large bid, putting it in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Last year, the Spartans were knocked out in the first round by Utah in a five-game battle.

“We felt we could have gone further last year, we dropped the ball in a five-game match and felt that we could have done more to (earn) that win,” MSU head coach Cathy George said in an official statement. “We have to go about that differently this year. We have to go into it not just being happy that we are there, but concentrate on going further.”

The Spartans and Wildcats have met only three times in school history, the last in 1997, where MSU swept Kentucky 3-0.

“I think it’s a really nice matchup, one that, although I haven’t seen Kentucky play this year, I think will be pretty evenly matched,” George said. “It will be even for both teams in terms of not being too far (from Dayton) and being able to get things started.”

The Wildcats finished their season second in the SEC Eastern Division and with a 22-9 overall record.

The key player for Kentucky is middle blocker Nicole Britenriker, who leads the team with 464 kills.

After a disappointing conference start, where the Spartans lost six of eight games, including a four-game losing streak, George called for an 8 a.m. Sunday practice.

“We knew that we didn’t want to settle with how we were playing. We were all willing (to go to the Sunday practice), none of us complained to be there,” senior outside hitter Ashley Schatzle said in an official statement. “We were all just willing to put in the extra work.”

Since the upsetting loss to Michigan on Oct. 5, the team has only been looking up.

“The team has totally turned it around and the record is outstanding since that time,” George said. “It was a point where we just (asked ourselves) what do we really want to be, how do we want to describe our team. The team has really been working hard and really put themselves on the map as far as this NCAA Tournament is concerned.”

With more experience and a three-game winning streak going into this year’s tournament, the team is expecting better results and won’t be happy with a first round send-off.

This will be the 12th trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history, and if the Spartans prove victorious against Kentucky on Friday, they will face the winner of the Dayton vs. Lipscomb matchup on Saturday in Dayton.

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