Coming off a 3-1 set victory over No. 21 Michigan, the MSU volleyball team will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face its third straight ranked opponent in the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Spartans (16-5 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) largely have been ignored by the coaches poll, but after nearly beating No. 1 Illinois last week and toppling the Wolverines, a win on Saturday could possibly launch the Spartans into national recognition for the first time this season.
So far this season, head coach Cathy George has kept her team grounded against ranked opponents and hopes to continue that trend this weekend.
Powered by senior outside hitters Jenilee Rathje and Kyndra Abron, MSU has seen a lot of success at the net this season, which could translate into a win against the Buckeyes. Ohio State ranks eighth in the Big Ten in blocks and ninth in opponent hitting percentage. Meanwhile, as of Wednesday afternoon the Spartans are ranked first in the Big Ten and third nationally in hitting percentage, posting an impressive .298 mark on the season. MSU also is ranked third in the Big Ten for kills per set, with 14.30.
However, if MSU wants to beat the Buckeyes, the Spartans have to do it on the defensive end, as Ohio State is ranked first in the Big Ten in both kills and assists. Sophomore middle blocker Alexis Mathews has had a monster season on defense, and she’ll be a key component in Saturday’s game. Freshman libero Kori Moster also will have to be on her A-game backing up the net defense.
After Ohio State, the Spartans will return home for another midweek match on Wednesday, when they take on the Indiana Hoosiers at 8 p.m.
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