The football team isn’t alone in facing a stiff, non-conference test this weekend.
The women’s volleyball team (4-0) welcomes ACC foes North Carolina and Duke to Jenison Field House on Friday and Saturday as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
No. 14 MSU will play No. 20 UNC (2-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. and No. 19 Duke (4-0) Saturday at 5 p.m.
The Spartans swept the competition in the UAB/Samford Tournament last week in Alabama, winning three of the four matches in the minimum three sets.
However, head coach Cathy George and her players know it will be tough sledding in the team’s first home games of the season.
“We have a lot of little areas we can sharpen up on,” George said, who has a career 94-21 non-conference record.
Both teams made the NCAA Tournament last year, UNC lost in the first round to the University of California- Berkeley and Duke lost in the second round to American University.
“I think it’s going to be stronger competition,” senior outside hitter Taylor Galloway said. “But I think we’re ready.”
The Tar Heels and Blue Devils also play a style which will prepare the Spartans for an unforgiving conference schedule. The Big Ten sent a conference record-tying eight teams to the NCAA tournament last year, with five earning top-16 seeds.
“They’re fast and feisty and the Big Ten is fast and feisty,” sophomore middle blocker and opposite hitter Allyssah Fitterer said.
Fitterer is a player to watch this weekend after taking home the MVP award at the UAB/ Samford Invitational.
“It was kind of unexpected,” said Fitterer of the honor. She leads the team with 46 kills and is tied for second on the team with nine blocks.
Even though MSU faces two top-25 teams in back-to-back games, they are not letting nerves get to them.
“I think it will be fun and really competitive,” Fitterer said. “They are both great teams and we’re a great team.”
George knows this is just one step in a long process for a team who hopes to build on its recent success.
“Every weekend we face top-notch competition,” George said, “We will be challenged and grow because of that.”