In her time at MSU, volleyball senior libero Kori Moster has left mark on program
In the midst of a close match against LIU-Brooklyn last Friday, the ball ricocheted off a Spartan and nearly landed out of bounds, which would have resulted in a point for the other team. But as she’s done many times during her career at MSU, senior libero Kori Moster dived into the audience to keep the point alive for the Spartans.
After a long rally, the Spartans won the point. Moster’s effort went down on the stat sheet as just another dig, but her heroic effort doesn’t go unnoticed by teammates and coaching staff.
“She works her butt off everyday,” said senior outside hitter Taylor Galloway, who has been her roommate since they first stepped foot on campus.
The libero position is essential in volleyball, especially when it comes to defense. As a libero, Moster rarely leaves the floor and is one of only three players on the team to play in every set this season.
Flying into the stands for the ball is part of the job for Moster, whose 1,848 digs leads MSU’s all-time digs list.
Moster, a two-time All-American, two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, is the co-captain of the team and a main reason the Spartans have enjoyed so much success on the court over the last couple of years.
MSU has a 77-38 record since the 2011-12 season, Moster’s first with the Spartans. MSU has also won at least one NCAA tournament game in each season Moster has donned the green and white.
The Spartans have made it to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament the last two seasons.
The fact that the volleyball program has returned to prominence since her arrival in 2011 is no coincidence.
“She’s always reliable and consistent whether it’s practice or a game,” senior co-captain and middle blocker Jazmine White said. “She’s a great teammate to have.”
Moster was a volleyball prodigy at Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to Head Coach Jeni Case.
“She was one of the best, if not the best, I ever coached,” Case said. “She’s definitely one of the most talented.”
Case remembered hearing of Moster’s skill when she was only 11-years-old playing club volleyball.
“Ursuline was great,” Moster said. “That self motivation and that toughness my high school and Jeni Case has instilled in me, it’s become part of who I am and it’s help me come this far.”
Moster also said the tough competition she faced at Ursuline Academy has helped her during Big Ten matches, which features some of the best teams in volleyball.
“She was very coachable,” Case said. “She was so good but so humble.”
It might have been hard for Moster to be humble. The three-year starter at Ursuline was a member of the ESPN RISE All-American First Team and was named First-Team all-state her senior year and a PrepVolleyball.com high school All-American.
Things were not always rosy for Moster, Case explained.
“I remember when she first started high school her goal was to make varsity as a freshman,” Case said. “I put Kori on (junior varsity) and remember her being upset.”
Moster used the rejection as motivation to get on the varsity team her sophomore year and helped the team make the state finals.
Losses were far and in between for Moster, who won 84 games in high school and only lost two.
“She just was one of those kids that you knew was going to do special things right away,” Case said.
Big win, crushing loss, good play, bad play ... Moster always knows the right things to say to her teammates.
The Spartans were down 2-1 against LIU-Brooklyn last Friday, and MSU was in the huddle in between sets. Sitting on the bench in the middle of the huddle with all eyes on her, Moster headed the discussion.
The Spartans’ star player was not throwing a tirade because her team was losing to what some might call an inferior opponent. Instead she was even keel, giving words of encouragement to a young team, which features eleven underclassmen.
“She’s got to lead the charge,” MSU head coach Cathy George said. “No doubt about it.”
Former cornerstones and star players of the program, such as Lauren Wicinski and Kristen Kelsay, have graduated, leaving Moster as the backbone of the team.
“ Those experiences in a leadership role have prepared me for this year,” Moster said.
This season marks the third straight year Moster has been named a co-captain for the Spartans.
“She’s very intense, she’s not a yeller or screamer,” White said. “She will tell you what needs to be done and she’s very knowledgeable about the game."
Moster is not only a leader on the court but also in the classroom.
The advertising major was named a Senior CLASS Award Nominee for the 2014 season.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award is given to a student athlete who excels both in athletics and in academics.
“That’s a responsibility you have to take on as a student athlete,” Moster said, adding that every year it’s gets “easier and easier” to balance school and volleyball.
Moster currently holds a 3.63 GPA and is involved in several community outreach programs as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
During the team’s media day, Moster acknowledged this is her last chance to bring home a national championship, and she can feel the heightened sense of urgency.
“This season is a marathon not a sprint,” Moster said. “We only have bigger challenges in front of us.”
MSU (7-4 overall) wrapped up the non-conference portion of their schedule this weekend and begin Big Ten play this week.
“It’s crazy, the first chapter of our story is completed.” Moster said. “We’re ready to move on to the next.”
The first chapter of the Spartans season has been a mix of disappointment and bliss.
Thus far, for every big MSU win this season, there’s been a let down in the next game or an injury to a key contributor.
The Spartans have struggled at times to establish a rhythm early on in the season, but Moster knows it’s part of the process.
“It’s been a growing period for us.” Moster said. “Every game and really every practice we learned so much about ourselves, we’ve had a lot of adversities.”
However, the leader of the Spartans can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“What we’ve learned so much is how we work best with each other as a team.” Moster said. “We just want to keep growing on that.”