In a volleyball conference ruled by powerhouses Penn State and Nebraska, it can be hard for the Spartans to get the spotlight in the Big Ten.
That might change, however, with the No. 25 Spartans (13-1 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) coming off their third-best start in program history.
The Spartans, who started the season 12-0 before losing a heartbreaker to Purdue (11-2 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) in five sets, have more than just a hot start to build on — they have the talent too.
MSU has a high-octane offense that has been used to sweep 10 total opponents this season. A good portion of that success has come from the Spartans’ 1.8 aces per set, which ranks in the top 10 in the nation, but the stat that defines the offense is their kills.
The Spartans, led by junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, average 15 kills per set, which is another stat that falls in the top 10 in the nation. Wicinski also is making her mark as an individual by earning .65 aces and 5.44 points per set.
Senior outside hitter Amy Dentlinger also has fronted the Spartans offensive attack by adding 122 kills this season.
The offense is supported by a solid defense that is led by junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews. Mathews has found herself in the upper tier of players across the nation, shutting down the opposition with 63 blocks on the year. Sophomore libero Kori Moster also has come up huge so far on defense, giving the Spartans 232 digs on the season.
MSU looks to turn its promising talent and early success into a Big Ten title. The road, however, will be a challenging one to drive on, considering that six other Big Ten schools are ranked ahead of them in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The team already has been tested early against No. 17 Purdue, and the early test only gets more difficult as the Spartans face No. 3 Nebraska (9-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) on Wednesday.
Head coach Cathy George will be aiming for something more historical than their second Big Ten win this season; she will also be coaching for her 500th career win.
The experience of George, the momentum from their 13-1 start and the talent of the Spartans could be what it takes to make this a special season for MSU.
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