The women’s volleyball team will face two polar opposite opponents this weekend, who are also trending in two different directions.
MSU (13-10 overall, 6-6 Big Ten) welcomes Minnesota (14-9 overall, 4-8 Big Ten) to Jenison Field House on Friday night and No. 4 Wisconsin (20-2 overall, 11-1 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon.
“You’re looking at youth on Friday night and experience on Sunday,” head coach Cathy George said. “We need to try to win as many matches as possible to put us in a good position for the NCAA Tournament.”
The Gopher’s inexperience has shown as they lost five of their last six games and have only won three sets since the beginning of October.
The Badgers, on the other hand, have not lost a set since October 4th and have not lost a match since late September.
“They’re very consistent. They don’t make a lot of errors,” senior middle blocker and team co-captain Jazmine White said of Wisconsin, who lost to Penn State in the National Championship game last season. “That would definitely be a big win for us.”
Despite the disparity in the win-loss column, George knows her team is in for a fist fight this weekend.
“Both of them are very physical and very talented teams,” George said. “We’re just looking to play really good solid volleyball and continue to improve.”
MSU has struggled to find its rhythm recently, losing three of its last four games.
However, the Spartans were able to win their last match in straight sets against Northwestern last Saturday, 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-16).
A big reason for the victory was the strong performance by White, who had a career best in kills and hitting percentage against the Wildcats.
“Anytime you have players step up and do what Jaz did on that night, your team is in great shape,” George said of White, who finished with 11 kills on a .529 hitting percentage. “The balance that was created really did help us.”
When White is on her game, it takes pressure off sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig, who has shouldered the offensive load for the Spartans this season. It also energizes her teammates.
“She brings a lot of fire and that spreads to the other players,” senior outside hitter Taylor Galloway said.
White believes her teammates are also capable of providing that same type of spark.
“There (are) a lot of people on our team that are energy givers,” White said. “I definitely think I’m one of those people.”
White also said her injured hand, which was wrapped in a cast on Wednesday, is doing fine.
First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Sunday.