Tuesday, June 25, 2024

MSU volleyball to travel east, remain positive despite slow start

Last week’s tough tournament hasn’t dimmed the MSU volleyball team’s outlook on the season.

The team, which lost to No. 10 Cal Poly and No. 22 Wichita State on way to an 0-3 start, will work on limiting errors if it wants to turn its season around when it travels to the Delaware Invitational this weekend.

This weekend’s crop of opponents won’t be quite as tough. Between the three other teams, there is one win, Syracuse’s 3-0 victory over Charleston Southern on Saturday.

Head coach Cathy George said the Spartans’ tough competition last weekend should help them this weekend.

“We played a couple very strong teams, and we took games off of very strong teams and teams that have returned most of their starting class and teams that have returned three to four starting seniors,” George said.

George has made it a goal this season to limit errors, something that wasn’t consistent last weekend.

“That’s really what the problem was, and when we limited it we played well, we won and that shows the talent that we have,” George said. “But then we would shoot ourselves in the foot, we gave up too many points, too many strings of points, and that’s where we probably fell short.”

Senior middle blocker/outside hitter Heather McDaniel said the team has used this week to work on teamwork as well.

“Instead of just individual players, we’re working a lot better as a team, and we’re just ready to attack this weekend,” McDaniel said.

Much of the slow start can be attributed to having such a young team, George said.

“We don’t have a very big leadership corps because we only have three upperclassmen,” George said. “We need them to step up, but the problem is Heather McDaniel has been hurt, Vanessa King is only out there for three rotations, and Mischelle (Nelson) is in and out at different times because she’s coming back from a shoulder injury. So, out of three older kids, we have one that’s out there for only three rotations. So, that makes it difficult from a leadership perspective.”

To help the Spartans to victory, they will need to rely on some of the younger players to step up and make plays. Sophomore outside hitter/middle blocker Jenilee Rathje won All-Tournament Team honors at last weekend’s Nike Sooner Legends Invitational.

“Jenilee is a phenomenal athlete but even then she’s still refining her game,” George said. “I’ll tell you she’s a force to be reckoned with and she’ll be a name in the Big Ten that people will have to take note of. But we have to (have underclassmen step up), basically our lineup is made up of freshmen and sophomores, so you’ll see different people stepping up at different times.”

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