The volleyball season is heading into the final stretch, and the competition is heating up for the Spartans.
MSU (12-7 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) will hit the road to play No. 20 Ohio State (14-6 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) on Friday night and No. 7 Penn State, the defending national champion (18-3 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) on Saturday night.
“They’re both talented teams,” head coach Cathy George said. “They’re going to be a big challenge for us.”
Despite the talent, the Spartans will not be intimidated this weekend, according to senior libero and co-captain Kori Moster.
“Just like any Big Ten team, just like any team overall, there’s weaknesses we can exploit,” Moster said. “We’re excited for the challenge.”
The Spartans are on a three game win streak and have won nine consecutive sets, but all of those wins have come against teams with sub .500 records.
The Buckeyes were on a five game win streak before No. 13 Purdue knocked them off last Saturday in five sets.
MSU swept OSU last year, winning both games, 3-0.
“Ohio State has a ton of balance,” George said of the Buckeyes, whose 1,106 kills on the season lead the conference.
Leading the balanced Buckeye attack is senior outside hitter Erin Sekinger. Sekinger’s 245 kills are good for the best on the team and her 3.22 kills per set ranks 11th in the Big Ten.
First serve in Columbus, Ohio is set for 7 p.m.
To say the Nittany Lions have been the model of success would be an understatement.
Penn State has dominated the college volleyball landscape this past decade, winning five national championships in the last seven years.
“They’re always a very tough team,” Moster said.
The Nittany Lions have only lost three games on the season with all three losses coming to teams ranked in the top 15 nationally.
Penn State has four players who all play at an All-American level. Freshman outside hitter Ali Frantti, redshirt junior outside hitter Aiyana Whitney, junior outside hitter Megan Courtney and senior middle hitter Nia Grant all have more than 180 kills and hit over a .300 clip.
To put those numbers into perspective, MSU has only two players with 180 kills or more and only one player who is hitting at a .300 clip or better (minimum of 20 sets played).
MSU split with Penn State last season as both teams won on the other’s home court.
Game time is at 5:30 p.m. from Penn State’s Rec Hall.