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Trip to NCAA Tournament still possible for MSU volleyball despite inconsistent season

November 24, 2014
<p>The team lines up with the cheerleaders and other fans Nov. 22, 2014 after their victory against Rutgers at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Scarlet Knights, 3-0. Dylan Vowell/The State News</p>

The team lines up with the cheerleaders and other fans Nov. 22, 2014 after their victory against Rutgers at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Scarlet Knights, 3-0. Dylan Vowell/The State News

Photo by Dylan Vowell | The State News

The ups and downs of the volleyball team’s roller coaster season has provided a silver lining — growth.

“You learn, you get shut down, you have to come back, you have to pick yourself up,” head coach Cathy George said.

Two weeks ago, it was doom and gloom for the Spartans.

MSU (16-13 overall , 9-8 Big Ten ) was on a three game losing streak after No. 11 Nebraska (20-7 overall , 14-4 Big Ten ) defeated the Spartans in a close four-set contest, where each set was decided by five points or less.

“I think we can learn from our mistakes and do better in practice,” freshman middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink said.

The Spartans seemed to have learned from their mistakes, or this could just be another peak, which will soon be followed by a valley.

MSU is currently riding high after sweeping Rutgers (7-24 overall , 0-18 Big Ten ) on Saturday, 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-16) and pushing its win streak to three games.

“We have some things that we have to work on but we are prepared to do it in practice,” Garvelink said.

The Spartans will not be able to win at least 22 games, like they have done for the past three seasons, but it doesn’t mean the season is a lost cause for Cathy George or her team.

“We want them to become the best players they can become, so sometimes it’s important to have a little failure,” George said.

Tournament hopes

There are still two games left in the season, No. 16 Purdue (22-8 overall , 12-6 Big Ten ) on Wednesday and on the road at Iowa (13-16 overall , 5-13 Big Ten ) on Friday.

A win against Purdue would certainly bolster the Spartans’ resume, which lacks a signature win.

MSU sits right in the middle of the Big Ten conference, ranked number seven in the fourteen-team league.

“The Big Ten ... is difficult for people, especially young people coming in,” George said. “It weathers you and gets you better. You start to learn how to do things a little more effectively.”

The strength of the Big Ten, which sent eight teams to the NCAA tournament last year, coupled with the No. 49 RPI should be enough to clinch a spot in the 64 team field.

“We just need to try and put ourselves in position for the NCAA berth,” George said.

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