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Volleyball travels to Michigan for midweek rivalry matchup

October 16, 2012
	<p>Junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews prepares for a serve on Friday at Jenison Field House. Mathews contributed 13 points in the Spartans’ 3-1 loss to Northwestern. </p>

Junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews prepares for a serve on Friday at Jenison Field House. Mathews contributed 13 points in the Spartans’ 3-1 loss to Northwestern.

Photo by James Ristau | The State News

After a rough weekend marred by two losses, the MSU volleyball team is looking to get its feet back under itself with a win on Wednesday.

The team, however, that the Spartans are going up against isn’t just a regular team — it’s their in-state rival, Michigan.

The Spartans (15-5 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) will have to overcome adversity that might come from their shaky weekend in order to give them a chance to beat Michigan (16-6, 4-4). Head coach Cathy George said that the team will look to get back to basics during its short week of practice.

“We didn’t play the way we wanted to play (over the weekend),” George said. “We got to get back to the little things and step up to the next level.”

The Spartans are coming off of a weekend that included a season-worst hitting percentage of .135 on Friday against Northwestern, and a five-set loss to Illinois in a game where the Spartans once led 2-0. The team undoubtedly could consider last weekend a slump, and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Galloway knows what the Spartans need to zero in on to possibly get back on track.

“Our main focus is to work on our mindset and just to focus on ourselves,” Galloway said.

After the game against Illinois, both George and sophomore libero Kori Moster said the Spartans need to focus on being more aggressive. A win against a Michigan team that has won its last two matches could be what the team needs to get its tenacity back.

“It’s going to be a confidence boost, and it’s going to be a test of our mental abilities, too,” Moster said.

Over the weekend, the offensive attack was carried by junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, who had 38 total kills over the weekend.

The defense was led by junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews, and George noted that the team will be looking for Mathews to continue her success from the past weekend.

“Alexis Mathews had an excellent weekend,” George said. “She is the type of player who can play at a really high level and physically take over matches.”

The Spartans split with the Wolverines a season ago, retaining the highly coveted State Pride flag, which is awarded annually to the winner of the series between the two historic rivals.

George and the Spartans will look to turn their season around, along with earning some in-state bragging rights, against the Wolverines at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Ann Arbor.

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