Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Young team prepares for season during scrimmage

Freshman middle blocker Vineece Verdun and freshman outside hitter Kyndra Abron attempt to block the spike by alumna Ashley Schatzle on Saturday at Jenison Field House during the Green and White game.

New players and new rules will dictate the beginning of the season for the MSU volleyball team.

The Spartans, who held their annual Green and White game Saturday, only have three upperclassmen on the team this season and have been picked to finish eighth in the Big Ten.

“We definitely addressed that,” said junior middle blocker Mischelle Nelson. “Even though people are saying we are a young team, as long as we don’t give in to that, and we don’t allow ourselves to think that way and consider ourselves as young players, that’s pretty much how we’re going to approach (the season).”

The team also will have to deal with a rules change in the offseason. To help align the college game with international play, games are now played to 25 instead of 30.

“I think that the errors are going to cost you even more dearly,” head coach Cathy George said of the rules change. “You’re not going to be able to overcome, say, a poor service game or a poor attacking game. You’re going to have to try to clean it up.

“A lot of times people felt they could coast in the early part of the match,” she continue. “You can’t coast. You have to get right at it and have to make sure your first play of the game is not getting ready to play.”

The team used the Green and White game to iron out some of those issues before heading to Oklahoma for the Nike Hilton Sooner Invitational. Besides playing host Oklahoma, MSU has No. 10 Cal Poly and Wichita State on the schedule for the invitational. The game also allows players to get a sense of the atmosphere of a real match and answers a lot of questions about the team, George said.

“Where are we going to score points? How are we going to score those points? Where are we giving up points? You get that out of the way, you get the match atmosphere, and it helps,” she said.

Senior middle blocker/outside hitter Heather McDaniel said the team has been working on growing in its maturity on the court.

“We’re going to have three or four freshmen maybe on the court at the same time, so we just have to work on scoring points,” McDaniel said. “We try to limit our opponents to two points at a time. That really helps us so we can score more runs.”

Volleyball alumna Ashley Schatzle, who was a guest player in the Green and White game, said the team already has good chemistry and just needs to work on playing the game.

“I think they’ve got really good ball control,” Schatzle said. “We have some new freshmen that really control the ball, and ball control is a pretty important part of the game. So now that they have that, they can develop the offense from there.”

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