The battle must start somewhere, and it must end somewhere. Rivalry week at Michigan State is in full swing on campus, and although the main focus typically has surrounded the football game against Michigan, rivalry week this year will start with the Michigan State volleyball team finishing the work that they started earlier in the season.
After being on the road for two straight matches, where the team fell to No. 2 Nebraska (1-3), and won against Iowa (3-1), the Spartans are now set to take on the University of Michigan Wednesday at the Breslin Center, for the “Battle at Breslin”.
With a win on MSU's back against Michigan at the Chrysler center in Ann Arbor, where the Spartans swept the Wolverines in three sets earlier this season, the team looks to do the same at home. Michigan State has the chance to sweep the Wolverines at Chrysler and at Breslin for the first time since 2015.
“We were playing good volleyball, and I think we’re playing better volleyball now,” said head coach Leah Johnson. “So, I’m excited to see what our matchup is (against Michigan).”
The Spartans were able to come out on top quickly against Michigan in their last meeting, but there has been a lot of games between now and then, so at this point in the season, the match could go any way.
“Them coming off of a loss from us, they’re going to want some revenge, and we’re going to stand our ground,” Johnson said.
In her first year as head coach in 2022, Johnson led her team to 13 wins. As of now, the Spartans are 12-7 overall, and 4-4 in the conference play. That 12-7 record is only one game away from tying her last year's record with 12 matches left to go.
“I look at matches by weekend and by quad,” said Johnson. “We are trying to build consistency in these last few stretches, we want to be more efficient and more consistent each time we step on the court.”
Johnson has also seen two record setting crowds at the Breslin Center, their first being on Oct. 14 2022, where the attendance was 7,326, and on Oct. 6 2023 where 8,789 fans poured in for the match against the Cornhuskers . For the match against Michigan, Johnson said she is hoping yet again to see some more of that.
“I think our student body is invested in Michigan State being the flagship university," Johnson said when asked about possibly setting a new record. "Both in support and our accomplishments as an institution, and the spirit of our people, so I hope we do."
Despite the domination in Iowa, the team, like all other teams, has some things that they are planning to work on to bring into Wednesday’s match.
“We got a little error prone the last two matches, and it favored us in some ways because we serve tough, but I want to clean that up a little bit,” Johnson said.
The Michigan Wolverines earned their first conference win on Oct. 6 against Northwestern, which now puts their overall record at 3-14, and their conference record at 1-7.
The Wolverines have lost their last two matches against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and the Indiana Hoosiers, being swept in both matches.
The Spartans will take on the Wolverines for their second meeting of the season on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at home. The match will be streamed on Big Ten Network.
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