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MSU closes season with wins, finish 6th in Big Ten

November 25, 2007

Freshman setter Lauren O’Reilly sets the ball to Vanessa King on Saturday evening at Jenison Field House. O’Reilly had four kills for a hitting percentage of .500 and seven defensive digs.

Photo by Sam Ruiz | The State News

It was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde weekend for the MSU volleyball team.

Even with what seemed like two different Spartan teams, they clinched their last two regular season matches along with sixth place in the Big Ten.

The Dr. Jekyll offensive powerhouse version of the Spartan squad (19-13 overall, 10-10 Big Ten) showed up Friday to sweep Purdue 3-0. All six MSU attackers finished the night with a hitting percentage higher than .300, with senior outside hitter Jessica Hohl leading the pack at .583.

Game one against the Boilermakers (18-13, 11-9) proved to be the best for the Spartans offensively, with a score of 30-19 and 24 team kills and only two errors.

“I believe we have been playing our best volleyball in the last four weeks,” MSU head coach Cathy George said. “I think we’ve been getting better all the time, we’ve been showing more consistency from game to game and we’re on the right track.”

The two teams met earlier in the season on Oct. 13 at Purdue’s home court where the Spartans were on the losing end as the Boilermakers swept the Spartans 3-0.

Saturday night’s contest against Indiana proved to be the Mr. Hyde error-ridden version of the Spartan team that struggled right out of the gate.

“Coming off of a big win yesterday, we were very excited,” senior outside hitter Katie Johnson said. “Then coming in (Saturday) and going back to basics, we just came out flat.”

Lucky for the Spartans however, the Hoosiers (15-17, 6-14) were committing more errors than MSU and tallied an unimpressive hitting percentage of .139, compared to the Spartans’ .308.

The Hoosiers capitalized on MSU’s 11 errors and .189 hitting percentage in game two to take it 30-28 before the Spartans finally woke up and shut down Indiana 3-1.

“We started out a little distracted and maybe not quite as focused as we needed to be,” George said. “We started to pull back together (late in game two), they were serving bullets at us and it was taking us out of our system.

“But eventually we started to work it back together where we were really passing well and we started to be able to get our offensive flow.”

The Spartans meant business in game three as they only committed two errors, held a .500 hitting percentage while only allowing the Hoosiers 14 points and forcing a -.030 hitting percentage.

George said that cleaning up ball control, being more detailed and going after it one step at a time was the team’s focus going into games three and four.

Now that conference play is finished, the Spartans will be preparing for the NCAA Tournament.

“I think we still have a lot of work to do for the NCAA Tournament, but what team can’t say that,” Johnson said. “I really think we’re prepared, we have so many girls that have been there last year that we know how to handle it. You just have to take one game at a time.”

If the Spartans receive a bid, they will return to the court as early as Thursday for round one.

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