Already off to a strong start in the 2011 season, the MSU volleyball team looks to continue this season’s success at the Spartan Showcase in Jenison Field House this weekend.
The Spartans will face stiff competition against St. John’s (3-0) today, and 3-1 Cleveland State and 3-0 Toledo on Saturday. Head coach Cathy George’s squad is currently boasting a 3-0 record after taking home the UCF Classic title last weekend, in which senior Jenilee Rathje was named tournament MVP and two other Spartans made the all-tournament team.
“We’re working to always create balance,” she said. “So offensively, we need every player to step up and do their part in our system.”
Freshman defensive specialist Kori Moster also stressed the importance of balance and team chemistry. Moster said the team has spent considerable time working to get on the same page, and the team is coming together as a whole.
The Spartans would like to see continued production from Rathje, who is the team’s current offensive leader with 39 kills. Senior setter Natalie Emro also has gotten off to a swift start, setting up 47 attacks in the UCF Classic.
Defensively, senior Carli Weiler has racked up 50 digs, while sophomore middle blocker Alexis Mathews has 17 blocks so far this season.
George said that in practice this week, the players have been working on improving their blocking and defense in preparation for the Spartan Showcase.
“We know that we have some very strong opponents this weekend, teams that have played together for quite a while. They have a system of play that’s quick and defensive-minded,” she said. “So we know that they’re working to split our blocks and really isolate our hitters.”
Weiler was impressed with the team’s effort in practice this week and noted that to be successful in the weekend’s games the team would need to execute the way it has in practice.
The Spartan Showcase will mark the team’s first home game in Jenison Field House since it was recently renovated. Weiler expects that more fans than usual will come out to see Jenison Field House’s improvements.
“I’m sure a lot of people are excited to see that,” she said.
Weiler noted the first home games of the season are often well-attended, and she hopes to see other MSU athletes come out and support the team.
For Moster, Friday’s matchup will also be her first regular season game at the arena.
“I’m excited,” she said. “There’s a little bit of nerves, but I try to push those aside and focus on the excitement.”
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