The Spartans, (4-2 overall) ranked No. 14 as of Sunday, came into the weekend undefeated and ready to prove they could compete with top-25 competition, which will no doubt be the norm in the stacked Big Ten conference.
However, after losing to No. 20 North Carolina 3-0 (17-25, 20-25, 22-25) and No. 19 Duke 3-2 (25-12, 22-25, 25-23, 23-25, 10-15) in consecutive nights as part of the ACC- Big Ten Challenge last weekend, MSU will have to regroup.
“We just have to come into practice this week with a good attitude,” sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig said. “Next weekend is another hard weekend.”
Reinig is tied for second on the team with 55 kills and is also second on the team with 15 blocks.
The non-conference murderer’s row continues next week when the Spartans head to Oregon to face the No. 22 Ducks and undefeated Oregon State.
“You have to learn how to bounce back from a lost the night before and take it to the next team,” sophomore middle blocker and opposite hitter Allyssah Fitterer said.
Fitterer has emerged as a key contributor on the team, leading the Spartans with 66 kills and a 3.14 kill per set percentage. She also led the offensive charge against Duke with 14 kills.
Even though MSU could not get a win over the weekend, there were some positives.
The Spartans looked much better Saturday against Duke after not winning a set on Friday against UNC.
Also, MSU was only two points away from winning against the Blue Devils before a controversial call went Duke's way in the fourth set. The Blue Devils used the momentum to win the set and ultimately win the game.
Fitterer stressed the importance of her team using their size earlier in the week and it looked like Saturday as if the message got through.
“I think at the beginning we did a really good job of it, we got away from it in the middle,” Fitterer said about her team which out-blocked Duke 15-10. “We just have to keep that discipline through the entire match.”
It's also only the second week on the season and head coach Cathy George hinted in the preseason that the lineup could be constantly in flux early on. There were times in both games where MSU opted for a more veteran laden lineup, and other times when the Spartans used multiple freshmen.
MSU seemed optimistic post game and believed their struggles over the weekend were not indicative of the team they are capable of being.
“We see those areas we need improvement in,” senior libero Kori Moster said.