Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Renewed defensive focus boosts Spartans heading into first home match

After starting the season 0-3, the MSU volleyball team began to work more on teamwork and defense, something head coach Cathy George said helped the team slow down the action on the court. The change worked, as the Spartans moved to 3-3 on the season last weekend, winning the Delaware Invitational.

“What would happen was our spacing wasn’t where it needed to be, so then there was a lot of hesitation because we were too close to each other and there was hesitation as to whose ball (it was),” George said.

The work has especially helped the team defensively, she said.

“Defensively, everything is about balance, and we were busy trying to guess what’s going to happen, instead of being set and stopped and balanced so we can react to what’s happening,” George said. “We would find ourselves off balance quite a bit and we really worked on our balance and our wait and see and move and react, then respond with instinct and decisiveness and that really helped us clear things up defensively.”

The work showed on the court, as the team finished its match against Delaware with a 25-8 set, a school record for defense.

The team also has benefited from a simplified attack that allows the younger players to get more involved, George said.

Beginning Friday, the team hosts the MSU Showcase at Jenison Field House, where it will match up against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Florida A&M and Connecticut.

Sophomore libero Allyson Karaba, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after her 69-dig performance in last week’s tournament, said the team is trying to keep momentum going from last weekend.

“We know that we can put teams away, so that’s what we’re going to try to do, go out right away and get those first few points and keep it going through the whole match and not let any team back in,” Karaba said.

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