Ask any athlete, team or coach and they will tell you that playing on the road is one of the toughest challenges in sports. The game and the dimensions of the court might be the same, but playing while under fire from the opposing team's crowd is a completely different animal.
This is the challenge No. 11 MSU women’s volleyball team faces as they head to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday for a rematch against the Ohio State University Buckeyes, the No. 19 team in the country.
“The hardest part about playing on the road is when you do a phenomenal play, nobody cares, nobody says anything, it's dead silent,” junior outside hitter Holly Toliver said. “It's tough going in and trying to play another team when you have no one really backing you besides your teammates.”
This season the Spartans have not fared well away from home. The team has only suffered four losses this season and two of them have come on the road, one to Penn State and the other to then-No. 24 Illinois. Both of those games ended with MSU being swept in straight sets, 3-0.
“It’s always good to get wins in this league," redshirt-junior outside hitter Autumn Bailey said. "It's a really tough league so that (winning) will help us a lot, and give us momentum and confidence.”
Bailey tallied 14 kills and scored 15.5 points in the first game against Ohio State, and was the leading scorer for the Spartans.
“I’m just trying to play clean volleyball, make smart decisions when the set's not there, just be aggressive and play some good defense,” Bailey said.
Head coach Cathy George will have just a few days to get the Spartans prepared for the match against the Buckeyes.
“You have road games, you have home games, so it's really important that the team is ready and understand that they’re in for a duel and that they are getting after it,” George said. “We just have to be real sharp on what we are doing and continue to get better.”
Senior outside hitter Chloe Reinig said that the Spartans will be ready for the challenge.
“Our biggest challenge is on the road games, so we are actually just kind of ready for this one — We are ready for the challenge,” Reinig said. “I think we decided enough is enough and Ohio State is really a good challenge for us. They are a fiery team, so I think we will fire right back at them.”
Game time is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 22. in Columbus, Ohio.