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Back from injury, freshman outside hitter Holly Toliver faces uphill battle to crack rotation

October 15, 2014
<p>Freshman outside hitter Holly Toliver celebrates with her teammates after scoring a point Sept. 6, 2014, at Jenison Fieldhouse during a game against Duke University. The Blue Devils defeated the Spartans, 3-2. Aerika Williams/The State News</p>

Freshman outside hitter Holly Toliver celebrates with her teammates after scoring a point Sept. 6, 2014, at Jenison Fieldhouse during a game against Duke University. The Blue Devils defeated the Spartans, 3-2. Aerika Williams/The State News

It can be hard to establish yourself as a freshman. It can be even harder to establish yourself as a freshman coming off an injury.

Freshman Holly Toliver came into this season ranked No. 31 among 2014 PrepVolleyball.com Senior Aces, but after suffering a broken foot, she has seen limited game action.

“It’s been a long time coming,” the outside hitter said, adding that sitting out for almost a month was “really frustrating.”

The month of rehab wasn’t spent in vain for Toliver, who missed eight games, three of which came against conference competition.

“I learned a lot by sitting,” Toliver said. “There’s pro and cons with being out, one of the main things was I got to listen to (coach), learned a lot.”

The former Berrien Springs standout has not filled the stat sheet in the three games since she has retuned from injury but her coach and teammates know her value.

“She’s got a lot of power,” head coach Cathy George said. “She has great arm swing and is very valuable to our team.”

Toliver was enjoying a good start to her college career before her injury, averaging a little over nine kills in six games.

When fully healthy, the 6 foot 2 inch outside hitter is a force to be reckoned with and is one of the most physical players on the roster.

“It brings another advantage to our team,” senior outside hitter Taylor Galloway said. “Every player has a different style, she’s a very aggressive player which can be intimidating to other teams.”

The Spartans plan on easing Toliver back into the lineup over the next couple of weeks.

“She has to get back into that playing rhythm and playing shape,” George said. “We’re bringing her in slowly but surely and we look forward to her getting in more and more.”

Toliver has played in a total of three sets over the last three games.

MSU (10-7 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) has games against Maryland and Rutgers on tap for the weekend.

If the Spartans can get ahead early and put the two teams away,it might give Toliver a chance to see a little more action behind outside hitters Taylor Galloway and sophomore Chloe Reinig, who have shouldered the offensive load for MSU.

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