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COLUMN — Winless weekend won't define volleyball season

September 9, 2014

No. 23 MSU (4-2 overall) did not get the results it wanted over the weekend after losing consecutive games to No. 17 UNC (4-1 overall) and No. 20 Duke (5-1 overall) at home as part of the ACC- Big Ten challenge.

However, these losses can be attributed to the growing pains of a tough non-conference schedule and are not indicative of the team the Spartans can become.

Before the season, senior libero and team co-captain Kori Moster compared this team favorably to the previous two Sweet Sixteen rosters 2012 and 2013, and over the weekend her team showed flashes of brilliance.

But one might have thought otherwise if they saw Friday’s home opener against UNC.

The Spartans were completely outclassed against the Tar Heels and struggled to find any sort of rhythm, losing in straight sets (17-25, 20-25, 22-25).

Saturday was a different story. The Spartans followed Friday’s beatdown with a much better performance albeit in a losing effort.

MSU was able to avoid unforced errors early on — which plagued them against UNC — and upped their stats from Friday in every major statistical category, including a 12-point jump in team blocks.

Duke scuffled through the first set and split the next two sets with MSU before a controversial call in the fourth set gave the Blue Devils new life.

A play here, a play there and the weekend outlook could have been a lot different.

The improvement from Friday to Saturday is a testament to the team’s resiliency, and will be something they need to show all season.

The Spartans will play eight more back-to-back games and can’t let one loss turn into two or even four losses like it did last year.

Short memory and constant improvement is needed in a Big Ten conference, which boasts six other teams in the AVCA rankings.

MSU has a chance to improve its non-conference record with the Big Ten- Pac 12 challenge this weekend when they hit the road to face No. 18 Oregon and undefeated Oregon State.

Last year, a win in early September against then-ranked No. 12 Oregon kick-started a successful season for MSU.

The Spartans are not a finished product, but no one is in early September. When people look back at this weekend’s games, I believe they will look at it as an outlier and not the standard.

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