It’s dancing time for the volleyball team.
MSU (18-13 overall, 11-9 Big Ten) will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night against Loyola Marymount (23-7 overall, 11-7 West Coast Conference) at Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto, California at 7:30 p.m.
“We believe in us and that’s all that matters,” sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig said.
The Spartans were selected to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year and it’s the seventeenth overall selection in program history.
“It’s so exciting. We wanted that rebirth because we know what we’re capable of,” senior libero and team co-captain Kori Moster said. “We’ve had a great couple of days of practice and we’re excited to get out to California to see what we can do.”
The Spartans will rely heavily on Moster, who has made the NCAA Tournament in each of her four years at MSU and led the team to the round of 16 each of the past two seasons.
Moster averages 4.60 digs per set, which ranks third in the Big Ten conference and she moved into fifth all-time on the conference digs list (2,179) with her 21 digs in MSU’s last game against Iowa.
Her defense will be key against the Lions, who have an explosive offensive attack. Loyola Marymount averaged 14.20 kills per set, which ranked 3rd in the West Coast Conference and hit at a .258 clip, also good for 3rd in the conference.
“They’re a very good team,” head coach Cathy George said. “They have a lot of savvy kids and don’t make a lot of mistakes.”
The Lions enter the matchup on a two-game losing streak with their most recent loss coming at the hands of No. 12 BYU, 1-3 (28-30, 12-25, 25-23, 21-25).
MSU, on the other hand, is on a five-game win streak and has not lost a set since Nov. 19 against Northwestern.
"(The win streak) was definitely needed for us to get into the tournament,” freshman middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink said. “We ended strong, we’re ready to take on the challenge and we can surprise a lot of teams.”
If MSU can get past Loyola Marymount then they will play the winner of No. 1 Stanford (29-1 overall, 19-1 PAC-12)/ CSU-Bakersfield (16-14 overall, 9-5 WAC) Friday night at 10 p.m.
Big Ten Honors
Four players were named to various All–Big Ten teams on Tuesday.
Reinig earned All–First Team honors. It’s the seventh straight time MSU has had a player recognized with the honor.
Moster was named an honorable mention selection for the third straight year.
Freshman setter Rachel Minarick was selected to the All-Freshman Team. Minarick’s selection marks the third straight season MSU has had a selection on the All-Freshman Team.
Senior middle blocker Jazmine White was the team’s Sportsmanship Award honoree.