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Volleyball sets lofty goals with season opener approaching

August 22, 2012

With the first regular season game of the season Friday night, the MSU volleyball team has high hopes for what their young team can accomplish this season.

Despite losing several key players from a season ago, — including second-team Academic All-American outside hitter Jenilee Rathje —eighth-year head coach Cathy George is very optimistic about this year’s squad and said they have a very strong cast coming back when addressing members of the media Wednesday afternoon.

“We have great leadership, great balance and great skill and ability levels,” George said. “We feel that we’re poised to do some great things this year.”

Even after graduating five mainstays that drove the Spartan lineup for years, George said they have to look at the returning players and analyze where they are.

“Last year we had a couple superstars that were carrying the load and I think this year, the fact that we have a lot of people that can score for us will be helpful to us,” she said. “We think our chemistry and our culture is stronger than it’s ever been.”

George said the team is excited to welcome transfer junior Lauren Wicinski from Northern Illinois — an All-American outside hitter who led the NCAA in kills per game last year.

Wicinski said she came to MSU for many reasons, but most importantly of all, she wanted a new environment to succeed and that MSU already has demonstrated it’s more team-oriented than her prior school was.

“Northern (Illinois) was more individual, and this is definitely like we’re a unit,” she said. “I’m going to try to prove myself here too, and do my best for this team.”

Wicinski said that doing well in one of the toughest conferences in the nation was a big motivation to her when she chose to come to MSU.

“People kind of underestimate us a little bit, but I think once we start playing our game, people will see the difference,” she said.

George also said that team captains, junior setter Kristen Kelsay and sophomore libero Kori Moster, are phenomenal leaders and the foundational pieces the core of the team needs to succeed.

“Captain is more of just a title,” Moster said. “We need to be the two that everybody on the team can look to for guidance, reassurance, and for kicking butt sometimes.”

Kelsay added that the goals for the season are big and that the team is looking to surprise some people.

“On our board it says Big Ten champs and national champs, and that’s what we would like to see at the end of the year,” she said. “We have a good preseason, but once you get into the grind of a ten-week Big Ten season, it’s tough and that’s when real champions show.”

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