Sunday, October 25, 2020

MSU volleyball heads south to compete in Western Kentucky Invitational

September 7, 2016
Junior middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink (17) hits the volleyball during the volleyball game against the University of Florida on Sept. 4, 2016 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans were defeated by the Gators, 3-0.
Junior middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink (17) hits the volleyball during the volleyball game against the University of Florida on Sept. 4, 2016 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans were defeated by the Gators, 3-0. —
Photo by Nic Antaya | and Nic Antaya The State News

The MSU volleyball team will continue their non-conference schedule as they head to Bowling Green, Ky. Sept. 9 and 10 to compete in the Western Kentucky Invitational. They will face the University of Cincinnati, Southern Illinois University and No. 23 Western Kentucky University.

The Spartans will look to bounce back after they were swept by No. 8 Florida during the Spartan Invitational on Sep. 3 and 4. Looking forward to the weekend, head coach Cathy George said she knows how tough the three opponents at the invitational are going to be.

“I really expect all three of (the teams) to win their leagues,” George said. “They’re very talented. Western Kentucky is the only one that is ranked out of that group, but all three will have very high RPIs (rating percentage index). We expect that tournament for us to go in and really get after it.”

As MSU gears up for the weekend, George said the match against Florida was a good way to see where the team was before conference play. However, she understood there is still work to do for her team.

“I think it was a good learning experience for us in the Florida game,” George said. “We were prepared, but it was just how did we go about it. You’ve got to be on the attack, you’ve got to make sure you’re pursuing, that you’re going after it.”

Captain Rachel Minarick had thoughts similar to her head coach. A common theme between the two was bouncing back from the match against Florida. Minarick said making sure the team was mentally sound was a big factor going forward.

“We just want to be able to compete well,” Minarick said. “Against Florida we struggled, but it was all a mental struggle and none of it was technical. So I think we just want to get back to playing the way we know we can play.”

Going up against another ranked opponent, the Spartans are consistently playing against top competition in their non-conference schedule. Minarick said doing so helps the team not only focus, but prepare for Big Ten season, where they will continue to face top-25 teams.

“(Playing) tough opponents definitely helps,” Minarick said. “You have to be used to a level of competition and the challenge that you face against every team. In the Big Ten, it’s the strongest volleyball conference in the country, so every battle you’re gonna have to fight, it’s not ever gonna be an easy match.”

The weekend invitational will begin for the Spartans at 4 p.m. Friday when the team will take on Cincinnati. At 12 p.m. on Saturday, MSU will wrap up their trip when they face Southern Illinois, followed by No. 23 Western Kentucky at 6 p.m.

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