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Spartans facing tough test in upcoming Big Ten road trip

October 8, 2009

The No. 18 MSU volleyball team showed its maturity this past weekend, battling back from the previous week’s two losses to earn convincing victories.

This weekend, it hopes to show consistency as it prepares for two difficult road environments at Wisconsin amd Iowa this weekend.

“We’re going into a tough road weekend and we’re playing two very talented teams at two tough venues,” head coach Cathy George said. “We know we’re going to have to go out there and really play hard.”

The Spartans evened their Big Ten record at 2-2 last weekend, erasing the previous week’s two-game slide.

Balance has been key to this year’s 14-2 start, with several players contributing to the attack. MSU is among few teams in the country to feature seven players with 70 or more kills.

The Spartans used double-digit kill performances from four different players to beat Illinois last weekend.

Junior outside hitter Megan Schatzle is the team’s leader in kills with 189, and is coming off a dazzling 20-kill performance Saturday. Meanwhile, sophomores Jenilee Rathje and Becca Zlabis are right behind her in that department.

“Our front row has so many options to go to,” Schatzle said. “That’s the sign of a good team.”

After traveling to Wisconsin and Iowa this weekend for matches, MSU returns home Oct. 16, and within the span of six days, faces Ohio State, No. 1 Penn State and No. 8 Michigan. MSU is 5-0 at home.

The Spartans look to earn their first Big Ten road win of the season Friday at Wisconsin against the 6-7 Badgers.

MSU plays Sunday at Iowa, which was the first team this year to win a single set against Penn State, falling 3-1 to the Nittany Lions last weekend. Penn State won its previous 14 matches by the score of 3-0.

Having already played 11 games away from home, the Spartans hope they can use their road experience to help lead to victories this weekend.

“We’re away again and we’re used to that, but we know how to do it,” sophomore outside hitter Becca Zlabis said. “We just have to focus one game at a time.”

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