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Michigan State volleyball schedule set for spring, starts Jan. 23

December 30, 2020
<p>Junior outside hitter Meredith Norris (3) passes a ball during the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2019, at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Bearcats, 3-1.</p>

Junior outside hitter Meredith Norris (3) passes a ball during the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2019, at Jenison Field House. The Spartans defeated the Bearcats, 3-1.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

After, well, an extended offseason, Michigan State volleyball is set to begin their season.

Late Tuesday evening, the Big Ten conference announced a 22-game conference only slate for the volleyball season that will begin in spring 2021.

The season will begin for all Big Ten programs the weekend of Jan. 22-24, according to a release from MSU athletics. It will feature a two-game series each weekend against the same opponent.

MSU opens its season on the road against Minnesota on Jan. 23-24. The Spartans will play five opponents in East Lansing: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Penn State and Rutgers while playing Minnesota, Maryland, Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa on the road.

In the current schedule, MSU has two "non-plays." With those on the schedule, the Spartans will not play Nebraska or Indiana.

MSU will have five home and five away series, with a home-and-home against U of M on Jan. 28 and Jan. 30.

Head Coach Cathy George and the Spartans finished 15-15 overall and 6-14 in the Big Ten during 2019. MSU lost five of its last six matches to end last season.

Several conferences, namely the Big 12, Sun Belt, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and South Eastern Conference (SEC), began to play in the fall. Those conferences will resume matches in January and either haven't announced a spring season plan or have determined to play a truncated schedule as many of them are several matches into their season.

Postseason play, which the Big Ten is always a factor in — winning five of the last ten NCAA Championships — will begin following the conclusion of the spring season on April 3.

Selections and seedings for the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament will be announced on April 4. While normally 64 teams qualify for the tournament, only 48 teams will participate this season with 32 automatic qualifiers and 16 at-large selections.

"We have always had our traditional criteria that we evaluate, a program's resume as it relates to getting an at-large bid," T.J. Meagher, chair of the DI NCAA Women's Volleyball Committee, said in an NCAA release from October, "Obviously automatic bids are awarded by the conference as who they determine to be their conference champion. So our focus is really on those that have not won their conference but have put together a season that merits a spot in the tournament."

The final site of the of the NCAA Tournament is not known, according to an NCAA release, but will be scheduled for April 23-25.

"There's a lot of puzzle pieces to put together, things that we probably haven't even thought of quite yet," Kristin Fasbender, NCAA director of championships and alliances, said in the release.

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