And for MSU, their path to victory will primarily be on the road.
MSU volleyball heads into challenging road stretch
The Spartans start their first of four straight matches away from Jenison Field House on Friday, as they battle the Illinois Fighting Illini. The next day, the team travels to Evanston, IL to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Head coach Cathy George said the team will certainly be up to the challenge.
“We have three home games left of the last ten, we are going to be road warriors, and that’s okay,” George said. “We have liked that so far. We want to hit the ground, we got to be tough here and really make a push for where we want to see ourselves finish in the Big Ten.”
The Spartans currently sit at 14-7, and 6-4 in conference play. Illinois is 13-8 with a 4-6 record in the Big Ten, while Northwestern is 12-9 with a 4-6 Big Ten record as well. All three teams have quality wins, helping boost their resume in preparation for the postseason tournament.
The Illini are ranked No. 21 in the country, and the Spartans are just a few votes away from being ranked in the top 25. Northwestern remains unranked, but have one giant win over Penn State on the road earlier in the season.
“We are right there,” George said. “We just got to keep pushing and keep getting better and make sure that our final push in the second half of the Big Ten is what it needs to be to put us in position for the future.”
The Spartans got a much needed boost before heading out on the road — that boost is recovery. MSU had four weeks in a row of playing a Wednesday and Saturday game schedule, but with this week on Friday and Saturday, they have an opportunity to finally prepare in full for their upcoming matches.
“I know it’s a time where we look at getting our bodies back,” George said. “The Wednesday, Saturday is a little different in that you don’t have the chance to kind of regroup your troops and work on some improvement and get some of those healing qualities in there.”
More importantly for George, the team can work on the improvements they didn’t have the opportunity to do with the schedule format.
“We are able to get our focus a little bit more on what we are doing and how we want to go about it and then moving into scouting reports,” George said.
With a tough road ahead, George was impressed with the group of players she has been working with this year, and believes her team has the ability to improve their Big Ten standing and be invited to the postseason.
“We have got a really good cast (of players), and I feel that we have improved weekly, and that’s important as we go into this final half,” George said. “There’s areas of concern that we need to get stronger in, but we are definitely making progress and I do think we have a lot of talent.”