Underclassmen will play big role in 2014 volleyball season
It can be difficult to replace record-setters and All-Americans , but the MSU volleyball team will attempt to do just that in 2014.
All-Americans Lauren Wicinski and Alexis Mathews have graduated, but the high expectations are still there.
“It’s great for the program to have two Sweet Sixteen (appearances) in a row,” senior middle blocker and outside hitter Jazmine White said. “But we’re here to win a national championship.”
MSU will depend on returning sophomores Allyssah Fitterer and Chloe Reinig to pick up the slack left behind.
Fitterer , a middle blocker , appeared in all 35 matches last year and won the MSU Most Improved Award .
Reinig , an outside hitter , missed time early in the season due to a bout with mononucleosis in 25 games last year and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team .
“We worked really hard in the spring just to make sure we are cleaning weak places we had last fall,” said Reinig . “Expectations are high but we’re just getting a mindset to handle the pressure we didn’t last year.”
Reinig and Fitterer will join 12 other underclassmen on a roster which went 23-12 last year and had a .500 record in Big Ten play .
For the second consecutive year, Head Coach Cathy George was able to reel in a top 10 recruiting class.
Middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink , setter Rachel Minarick and outside hitter Holly Toliver were all highly touted coming out of high school and will give MSU flexibility and depth heading into a season full of high expectations.
Garvelink , Minarick and Toliver helped propel the Green team to victory in the Green and White exhibition this past weekend. Toliver led all scorers with 11 kills on 41 swings. Minarick had 25 assists and Garvelink contributed four kills on nine swings.
“Over the course of the season you will see the lineup evolving,” George said, who believes the depth will help them against a tough Big Ten schedule.
Garvelink , Minarick and Toliver are all listed as possible starters heading into the tournament against Southeastern Louisiana and Jacksonville State, beginning on Aug. 29 .