After four straight weekends on the road, the No. 23 MSU volleyball team returns to Jenison Field House looking to bounce back from last weekend’s pair of tough losses.
The Spartans streaked through their nonconference schedule with a 12-0 record and one of the program’s best-ever starts, but struggled in their first two Big Ten matches last weekend at Purdue and Indiana that have left a slightly foul taste in their mouths as they resume Big Ten play.
“In the Big Ten, you have opportunities each weekend to position yourself,” head coach Cathy George said. “It’s about applying yourself and being the best you can be every night and letting the rest happen.”
The Spartans had a pretty successful trip, winning nine straight games and three tournament championships before stumbling last weekend. The last time the team played at Jenison Field House, it was in the closing moments of a big victory against ACC foe North Carolina that catapulted it to an MSU Showcase championship.
The Spartans will again look to feed off the energy of the home fans to provide an extra lift.
“We’re very much looking forward to being back and being with our fans and being in our own beds,” George said. “It’ll be nice to have an extra day just to get everything set up.”
The Spartans should also get a lift if senior middle blocker Vanessa King is able to return from an ankle injury that kept her out of last weekend’s matchups. King, an All-Big Ten selection last season, is sixth on the team in kills and someone her teammates turn to on the court. She is listed as day-to-day.
“It’s going to be important to get back half of our senior leadership because half of it was missing last weekend,” redshirt freshman defensive specialist Mandi Karaba said. “Everyone looks up to her and she creates that stability on the court.”
The team’s other senior, middle blocker Mischelle Nelson, had 10 kills against Purdue last Friday in the 3-1 loss.
The Spartans play seven of their next 10 games at home and will look to use this stretch to springboard into the final third of the season. MSU is barely one month into its regular season, which spans from late August to late November.
MSU opens play against No. 12 Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Friday, then returns to action against Northwestern at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Both of MSU’s opponents will be hungry as Illinois is coming off a loss Saturday and Northwestern, like MSU, dropped its first two conference matches. Whatever the circumstance, MSU hopes to get back on track and get consistent play this weekend.
“It’s extremely important especially because we started off 0-2,” Nelson said. “This is huge for us just to come back and clean up our game.”
Share and discuss “Volleyball team returns home after long journey” on social media.