No. 25 MSU volleyball (5-3 overall) will host the 2014 Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational this weekend at Jenison Field House.
The Spartans welcome LIU Brooklyn (7-3 overall), Western Kentucky (10-2 overall) and UW-Milwaukee (4-6 overall) to East Lansing for a two-day, six-game tournament.
The tough nonconference schedule will not get any easier for MSU. LIU Brooklyn and UW-Milwaukee were both tournament teams in 2013, and Western Kentucky also had a major victory against No. 8 Purdue last week.
“That’s why you come to the Big Ten,” senior libero Kori Moster said. “I wanted that challenge.”
The grueling slate does not intimidate head coach Cathy George either.
“We’ve been working real hard and getting some film work in,” George said. “(We’ve) been taking care of some details we need to sure up.”
The Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational was kind to MSU last year. The Spartans defeated Eastern Michigan, Duquesne and Cincinnati in the 2013 version.
MSU played Oregon and Oregon State last week as part of the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. The Spartans lost to Oregon, 1-3 on Friday and defeated Oregon State, 3-1 on Saturday.
“I think we’re growing,” George said. “We’re continuing to improve.”
The Spartans will not have junior setter Halle Peterson at their disposal this week, who dislocated her shoulder against Oregon.
Freshman setter Rachel Minarick is the only setter left on the roster. She is ranked No. 10 in the Big Ten in assists, averaging 9.11 per set.
“Every game and really every practice we learned so much about ourselves,” Moster said. “We’ve handled a lot of adversities.”
Defensively, Moster had 25 and 27 digs against Oregon and Oregon State, respectively. Moster leads the Spartans with 133 digs.
Offensively, sophomores Allyssah Fitterer and Chloe Reinig lead the charge.
Fitterer, an opposite hitter, has a team-high 83 kills and is averaging 2.86 kills per set. Reinig, an outside hitter, is second on the team with 81 kills and leads the team with 2.89 kills per set.
Also on Friday, middle-school students will be in attendance for a “Block Out Bullying” assembly, which is in conjunction with the tournament.