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Spartan volleyball hopes to rebound vs. Oakland in midweek matchup

September 13, 2010

Junior outside hitter Jenilee Rathje, left, and junior outside hitter Becca Zlabis, right, go up for the block against Clemson outside hitter Natalie Patzin on Friday. The Spartans finished their night with a victory in only three sets against Clemson on Friday at Jenison Field House.

Photo by Josh Radtke | The State News

Looking to recover from a challenging weekend, the MSU volleyball team (6-3) will host Oakland tonight at 7 p.m. at Jenison Field House.

After what the Spartans called “a learning experience” during the weekend, the team plans to make a few adjustments that hopefully will set them up for a win against the Golden Grizzlies.

“Oakland is a solid team, and we just need to get our game together and do what Michigan State does,” head coach Cathy George said. “We have to play better as a whole.”

After suffering a 3-2 loss to Eastern Michigan in the Spartan Invitational during the weekend, the team recognized a number of fundamental changes it needs to make to to succeed in its nonconference matches and in the Big Ten.

Sophomore outside hitter Amy Dentlinger said she noticed everyone on the court needs to focus on their specific job, anticipate the opponent’s next move and adjust accordingly. The Spartans struggled with that this weekend, but it partly can be attributed to the loss of senior libero Allyson Karaba and junior libero Carli Weiler because of injuries.

The team also acknowledged that it needs to have a calmer and more settled control of the ball so it can properly attack the opponent. George added that MSU needs to reduce its number of passing errors and receiving errors.

While the Spartans said they still have a number of elements to work on at practice, senior outside hitter Megan Schatzle said they have been focusing on blocking, closing the gaps in their defense and pushing out the seams on net for the past week. She said these focus points were evident in their weekend performance and should carry over against Oakland and later in the week at Toledo.

“We don’t (underestimate) teams at all, especially after what just happened (with Eastern).” Schatzle said. “We don’t (underestimate) teams because losses like that will happen.”

This season, the Spartans and the Golden Grizzlies (5-6) have shared two opponents: Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

MSU defeated Bowling Green in its season opener 3-0, and Oakland topped them with the same score.

Both teams fell to Eastern Michigan, but MSU took the match to five games Saturday, compared to the Golden Grizzlies’ 3-0 loss on Sept. 7.

The last time MSU and Oakland met was in 2008 at Jenison, when the Spartans pulled off a 3-1 victory.

The only other recent time the two teams have met was in 2006, when MSU hosted the Golden Grizzlies and dominated 3-0.

In that match, MSU held Oakland to the second-lowest point total in the Golden Grizzlies’ program history at 53 total points, and this was when they played under a 30-point scoring system, compared to today’s 25.

Tuesday’s match is a rare midweek matchup for the Spartans, who travel to Toledo on Friday.

Despite the quick turnaround from last weekend, the Spartans are confident they will come out strong. 

“We’re just going to go in at our level, play high and not go down to their level,” Schatzle said.

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