Sunday, October 25, 2020

MSU improves to 11-1 after sweeping Spartan Invitational

September 18, 2016
The volleyball team puts their hands together during the volleyball game against Notre Dame on Sept. 16, 2016 at the Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Fighting Irish, 3-0.
The volleyball team puts their hands together during the volleyball game against Notre Dame on Sept. 16, 2016 at the Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Fighting Irish, 3-0. —
Photo by Victor DiRita | and Victor DiRita The State News

The University of Notre Dame, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and DePaul University fell in straight sets to No. 22 MSU, and now the Spartans are standing high with an 11-1 overall record and Big Ten play right around the corner.

Prior to MSU’s first match against Notre Dame, senior and captain Chloe Reinig was honored on the floor for her 1,000 career kills in a Spartan uniform.

The Spartan Classic marked MSU’s fourth tournament win of the season. MSU was led all weekend by juniors Alyssa Garvelink and Rachel Minarick. Both were named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts.

The Spartans, however, heavily leaned on their redshirt-junior transfer, Autumn Bailey. Bailey was named tournament MVP as she filled up the box score in a variety of stats — including a recorded 38 kills while also chipping in 16 digs.

Head coach Cathy George said she saw a blend of aggressiveness from Bailey the Spartans haven’t seen before.

“I thought (Bailey) did a really nice job,” George said. “She really started to do some of the things we haven’t seen her do as much of ... I think she continued to get stronger and stronger, more confident with her coming off the (torn ACL last season). I think she’s continuing to gain confidence.”

While Bailey was playing well out on the court, she said that there wasn’t too much going through her mind in the middle of play. But she did mention there was a competitive edge in the Spartans’ play now that the team is ranked in the top 25.

“I think that we have that competitive edge to get to the top 25,” Bailey said. “I think that we know we can push further into the top 25. I think that gives us a little chip on our shoulder. But we’re still the underdogs and we still have a lot to prove.”

Throughout the weekend, MSU started each of their matches with an early lead, but struggled to close it out, which kept the door open for their competition. The impact was seen in their hitting percentages. In the third set of all their matches, the team’s attack efficiency suffered across the board.

George knows this might be a problem heading into conference play. George said cracking down on that as a team will be vital to be competitive going forward.

“I think we have to stay disciplined throughout the match,” George said. “We don’t want to continue to rely on our serve, we’ve got to make sure we’re continuing to execute as well in every area.”

In terms of their service game, the Spartans were on point all weekend.

Overall, Minarick, also one of the captains, said as a team they feel good and confident about everything thus far this season. However, she’s also aware that the team needs a little bit more work perfecting their craft.

“I think we feel good,” Minarick said. “We know that there’s definitely some things that we need to get better at and we talked about that after the game. But we know that we’re making strides so we’re just excited to keep getting better and do what we can do this season.”

The Spartans will enter the Big Ten conference play this upcoming weekend, as they host the University of Iowa and No. 1 Nebraska. The game against Iowa is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, while the match against Nebraska is for Sept. 24 with the time still to be announced.

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