MSU volleyball is heading into a critical stretch this weekend if they plan on playing postseason matches this year. Head coach Cathy George knows this second half stretch of Big Ten play is crucial for her team.
“Last weekend, not the kind of weekend we wanted, and it’s a turning point, that at the turn for the Big Ten, you really want to start getting in there and getting those last ten games as you look to get into the NCAA tournament,” George said. “You want that record and resume to be strong, so definitely not the way we wanted to start the second half, but one in which we need to learn from and regroup.”
After dropping both games in a back to back last weekend at Illinois and Northwestern, George was not particularly happy with the way her ladies played in one key aspect.
“Defensively, we weren’t what we needed to be," George said. "We didn’t play well on that end of the ball. We really need to step that up if we are going to be able to make a mark in this second half.”
With 10 Big Ten teams in the top 41 of RPI (Rating Percentage Index), MSU’s road will be paved with quality competition. This upcoming weekend, the Spartans stay on the road for two nationally televised games, first stopping at Minnesota to battle the No. 4 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers Friday on Big Ten Network, and a trip to Madison, Wisc. to play against the number 13 ranked Wisconsin Badgers Sunday on ESPN2.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us as we head into Minnesota and Wisconsin,” George said. “As usual, it’s a tough Big Ten weekend, but something that we are kind of used to.”
Minnesota currently sits at the top of the Big Ten with an 11-1 conference record and have an unblemished eight wins and zero losses at home. Their only loss came against top ten ranked Penn State on the road.
“Minnesota, I think they are playing probably about as well as anybody across the country,” George said. “Minnesota has got it going on, they are playing really well, playing a fast offense, and everybody is bowing in. They are going to be a tough team to reckon with.”
As George said, it won’t get any easier in a matinee game against Wisconsin. The Badgers were in the National Championship two years ago, and return multiple players from that runner-up roster. Wisconsin is 16-6 overall and 8-4 in the Big Ten.
“Wisconsin is again another great team, it’s not going to be too easy,” George said. “We do have one day of reprieve there in the middle with us going on Sunday because of the ESPN game so it gives us a little time in Madison and a little time to kind of regroup from the Minnesota game.”
The Spartans are currently 14-9 on the year, and an even 6-6 in conference play. MSU will attempt to boost their resume for the NCAA Tournament after making the field last season, before falling to No. 1 Stanford in the second round.
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