Three regular season home games remain at Jenison Field House this season. For the seniors of the No. 8 volleyball team, the time is winding down as their career as a Spartan slowly comes to an end.
Senior setter co-captain Rachel Minarick and the rest of her senior teammates makes the upcoming ending bittersweet.
“We say that the days are long, but the years go so fast and you look back and you can’t believe we’re already approaching the end of our college careers,” Minarick said. “It’s unfathomable, but sad and bittersweet.”
Some girls are sad with the final game being less than two weeks away against Indiana, but still brings in many mixed emotions. It even brings in a new chapter in their lives.
For senior middle co-captain, Alyssa Garvelink, she now realizes that time really does fly by.
“I would say it’s pretty unbelievable,” Garvelink said. “They tell you that you’re time here goes fast and I mean it’s been three, almost four years now so it’s mostly just a surreal feeling that we have three games left here.”
As for one senior outside hitter, she does not feel those sad feelings hitting her just yet.
Holly Toliver still sees more games to play and does not quite feel those emotional feelings just yet. She just wants to keep playing
“I don’t really feel the nostalgia like I should I think,” Toliver said. “The season is not done. I don’t know, for me anyway, it doesn’t feel like a sad moment as much as exciting. I’m ready to keep playing.”
Through their past four years as Spartans, they have made countless memories. To pick just one was tough for the girls, but they will truly never forget it.
Redshirt senior middle Megan Tompkins will miss her favorite game of the season facing MSU’s main rival the University of Michigan.
“Jam Jenison is definitely,” Tompkins said. “Probably one of the best games to play every year here against Michigan because it’s a packed house.”
From creating handshakes to cheer, to pregame locker room rituals, these are just some of the many memories they have made. At least from what the fans have seen.
Minarick’s favorite memories involve moments away from the court. Aside from winning important games, it’s the bonding moments that make this team special.
“I think the things you remember the most are like the team bonding moments,” Minarick said. “Like summer in Petoskey with the team or we go visit Meg’s family and our team Halloween parties and all those moments that people don’t see.”
Dance-offs before practices and other little moments, senior libero, and Minnesota native, Abby Monson remembers an important game against the Golden Gophers back in 2016.
“My favorite memory for me personally would be beating Minnesota here last year,” Monson said. “Just because I’m from there and that’s just the biggest moment in my four years here and it’s something I’ll never forget just because I have played with most of the girls across the net.”
Toliver describes her most memorable moment that happened during a spring practice. She explains about her struggles of setting the way head coach Cathy George wanted and messing up her blocks when she didn’t even realize it.
During the moment, it was not her favorite time to be in, but when she thinks about it more and more now, she finds it as a funny moment.
“There all are like really terrible times in that moment, but they’re great to think back on,” Toliver said. “It was one of the funniest days looking back on it, but when I was in it I thought (George) hates me and I’m done and I’m never going to see the court, but looking back on it, it was pretty funny.”
As the season continues to move forward and come to an end, the team begins to focus on more competition within NCAA tournament.
According to Garvelink, she hopes the team continues to strive more momentum and improving more and more at each practice.
“We wanna finish strong in the Big Ten,” Minarick said. “We still have a lot of good opponents ahead of us so staying focus in practices and working hard. Making sure we’re still getting better approaching the NCAA tournament.”
After MSU volleyball, Minarick and Tompkins look forward to becoming teachers. Minarick and Monson hope to move off the court and teach other girls the game they love and for Toliver and Garvelink hope to go pro once their time at MSU is finished.
These girls will finish off their last year playing in the Big Ten. In the future, they can look back on all the games they played, memories they shared, and the bonds created that will continue down the road. Many cannot put a price on that according to Toliver.
“I’m going to miss the environment of playing in the Big Ten,” Toliver said. “You can’t buy that. You can’t go in any other conference really and play in venues like we play in with the fans watching us.”
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