Michigan State volleyball continues their winning streak to improve to 12-1. The Spartans swept the Auto Owners Spartan Invitational this weekend, playing in three games.
For Naya Gros and the other six freshmen on the team, this weekend was their first opportunity to play at home.
“The experience so far has been amazing. I can say as a freshman coming in, I knew there was going to be a lot of pressure to preform on the court, but my team supported me throughout every single game,” said Gros. “[They] gave me encouragement, the crowd was amazing and I just love playing in atmospheres like this.”
Friday, the Spartans faced Albany, finishing in three sets — 25-19, 25-21 and 25-16. Outside hitter Alyssa Chronowski led the Spartans with 11 kills.
They then went on to face the University of Alabama-Birmingham Saturday. The Spartans had complete control in the first set, holding the Blazers to just seven points. They challenged the Spartans in the next two sets, but it was still no match. The Spartans won the final two sets 25-16 and 27-25. Chronowski again led the Spartans with 11 kills.
The team's final game was against Western Michigan Saturday evening. The Spartans were equally challenged in each set. Meredith Norris led the Spartans in set one with five kills as they won 25-19. The Broncos almost had the Spartans in the second, but the team went on a run to score three straight points finished with a kill by Chronowski to take the set 25-22.
There was a change of direction in the third set as the Broncos began to dominate and the Spartans had no answers, struggling with serve. The Broncos kept a wide margin from the beginning, winning the set 25-14. Before this, the Spartans had won 26 consecutive sets going back to their win at the University of North Carolina on Sept. 1. The Tar Heels won the first set of that game and the Spartans won the next three to begin the streak.
“Cathy always says, ‘Maturity isn’t shown by how you play but by how you handle your emotions,’” said Chronowski. “So I thought even despite that low in the third game, I love the way we fight and fought back in the fourth.”
The Spartans fought back with determination to take the final set 25-20. Norris led the game for the Spartans with 13 kills. Chronowski won the Spartan Invitational’s Most Valuable Player award.
“The only thing I gotta say is I have to work really hard in practice this week,” said Chronowski. “I know this week my coaches did a great job of preparing me and figuring out what things I need to work on, especially in defense. Just keep checking boxes, got to move onto the next thing and get better for Big Ten season.”
“Each team this weekend does some things that are similar to different teams in the Big Ten,” said George. “So it’s really good for us to experience it and for us to understand what we did and didn’t do well with what they were trying to do and to recognize what game planning will be like in the weeks to come. So you have to be able to identify and then, you know, make some plays.”
The Spartans begin Big Ten play in two away games next weekend: Sept. 21 against the University of Iowa at 8 p.m. and Sept. 23 against the University of Nebraska at 3 p.m.