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Volleyball team racks up another tourney win

September 20, 2009

The No. 17 MSU volleyball team completed an undefeated nonconference schedule this weekend with its fourth straight tournament win, earning three victories at the Clemson Classic in Clemson, S.C.

The Spartans are off to a 12-0 start after easy victories against Furman and Presbyterian this weekend and a close win against Clemson in the team’s second game of the weekend. Although records don’t always tell the whole story, head coach Cathy George said she’s pleased with the way her team has handled the different atmospheres it’s played in so far this year.

“We’ve been on the road three weekends in a row and we’ve been in different types of atmospheres,” George said. “We’ve seen hostile crowds and nonexistent crowds, and the team has grown and adapted to whatever we’ve needed to throughout.”

The Spartans played all three of their games this weekend within a 24-hour span, getting off to a strong start Friday by earning a 3-0 victory against Furman. The second match Friday against Clemson proved to be a difficult test for MSU, who trailed by one point late in the final set before scoring five of the final six points to take a tough 3-2 victory.

MSU finished nonconference play Saturday with a 3-0 win against Presbyterian.

“I think our team played really tough in game 5 (against Clemson),” she said.

“Our aggressive play was impressive and we showed some strong moments in the match, then looked complacent at times.”

Redshirt sophomore Jenilee Rathje earned MVP honors after recording 12 blocks during the weekend and earning an average of 1.09 blocks per set. Rathje is the fourth Spartan to earn tournament MVP honors this season in four nonconference tournaments.

The last two Spartan tournament MVPs, junior Allyson Karaba and sophomore Natalie Emro, also were named to the all-tournament team.

Rathje was sidelined with a knee injury that forced her to miss part of last season, but said she was able to learn a lot from watching on the sidelines.

“Just from watching I gained a lot of experience and learned from helping to coach the team,” Rathje said last week.

Three of the four tournament MVPs this season have been sophomores.

“It’s always something to look forward to when you have younger players on the team,” sophomore Carli Weiler said last week. “The older players are definitely doing a good job of helping us out and getting us ready.”

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