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Spartans clinch Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan invitational

September 9, 2012

Different weekend, same old story.

For the third consecutive weekend, MSU volleyball has taken home the title from a weekend invitational. Two weeks ago, it was the Spartan Showcase. Last weekend, it was the University of Connecticut Classic.

This weekend, it was the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational. MSU took down IPFW on Friday before besting Albany and Georgia on Saturday to win the crown. Senior outside hitter Amy Dentlinger, sophomore libero Kori Moster and junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski were named to the All-Tournament team and Wicinski was named tournament MVP.

After a hard-fought, five-set win over IPFW on Friday, MSU needed to regroup in time to play Albany at noon the next day. Junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews said head coach Cathy George told the team to go home, eat something and get to bed early, which they were only too happy to comply with.

“We were all dead tired anyway,” she said.

Wicinski said the Spartans knew they were going to have to show up on Saturday with purpose, since they’d had their struggles with early games on Saturdays in the past. Although the result — a win in straight sets — suggested MSU took care of business, George wasn’t thrilled with their performance.

“We needed to come out and play tough,” she said. “But we kind of lulled as the match went on. It was not our best volleyball.”

She was much more pleased after MSU beat down Georgia in straight sets to take home the trophy.

“We learned from (the first game),” she said. “We rallied, we stayed with plays and we fought for balls.”

Wicinski seconded her coach’s assessment.

“Georgia was tough,” she said. “But we were aggressive with our game and we executed our plan.”

Wicinski has hit the ground running in her first season in East Lansing. She’s picked up a pair of MVP awards in three weekends, with the other going to Moster.

But she still thinks she can improve.

“I wasn’t as aggressive as I’d like on my serves,” she said.

The Spartans as a whole take a similar view. Mathews said they’ll look to improve on some things going into next week, regardless of their undefeated record.

“We have to keep our serving consistent,” she said. “We also want to work on creating our own energy for when we’re on the road. And there’s always blocking too.”

George was very clear that the team is never satisfied.

“We’ll watch a lot of tape this week,” she said. “We always look to build on something every week. As we grow and continue to digest information, we need to.”

MSU has one more invitational weekend before they start the Big Ten season.

They’ll head to Charleston, South Carolina, where they will take on Presbyterian College, Georgetown and host Charleston.

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The Spartans open their Big Ten schedule with Purdue on Sept. 21 at Jenison Field House.


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