Maturity in college sports often goes a long way.
MSU volleyball's No. 9 ranked recruiting class from 2016 is finally in their last year with the program. After a 15-15 overall record last year, the groups renewed sense of wisdom is something they will rest on while clawing through a tough Big Ten conference.
“I do believe that we have improved a great deal since last year … I think we’ve grown tremendously close,” head coach Cathy George said during a press conference. “I think just the growth and the maturity is there.”
After having their season start pushed back to the spring, Michigan State volleyball is ready to get back on the court Saturday in their season-opener against No. 2 Minnesota.
MSU will have five home and five away series, beginning with a two-game series against Minnesota, and followed by Michigan the next weekend. Each team will play 22 conference matches and no matches against non-conference teams.
Last season, the Spartans ended with a 6-14 record in Big Ten play, finishing the season on a weaker note: losing five out of their six final matches. But there were bright spots, the Spartans averaged 2.63 blocks per set with 289 total blocks, which ranked third and fifth in the Big Ten.
But, it isn't just about their seniors. The program recognizes the team’s maturity, but that doesn’t mean the underclassmen don’t have something to teach the veterans.
The current juniors had a No. 15 ranking and the sophomores were ranked No. 9, according to PrepVolleyball.
They also welcomed four freshman recruits.
“... These freshmen that have come in, and even some of the underclassmen, they have this sense of calmness about them, they don’t panic, they dont think too far ahead,” team captain Jamye Cox said during a press conference. “And that’s something our class is learning from them.”
After having an extended off season, the Spartans are ready to be back in green and white on the court and are ready to take on any challenges they may face.
Senior Libero and Team Captain Jamye Cox, a starter from freshman year, was fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 4.06 digs per set over 28 matches. She was MSU's digs leader in all but four matches and is ranked ninth in MSU's recordbook.
Another standout player and team captain, Meredith Norris will return in her final season as a Spartan.
Norris, senior outside hitter and team captain, averaged the team best of 2.67 kills, .25 aces per frame with 2.00 digs and .44 blocks. She is an exceptional six-rotation player and her ball-handling skills make her a Spartan to watch out for again this season.
Now in the process of obtaining their master's, both Cox and Norris are ready to be back on the court spending another season in green and white.
"What I think we've also learned is that everyday's not promised ... we're not promised that we can always get in the gym, we've learned that every practice matters." Cox said during a press conference.
When asked about what games they’re most excited for, Cox responded:
“All of them! We’re ready to win all of them.”
The Spartans will take on the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis Saturday, Jan. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 24 in a two-match series.
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