After losses against Iowa and Nebraska last week, Michigan State volleyball (12-3) looks to get their first wins of the Big Ten season as they host Penn State (9-3) and Rutgers (6-9) this weekend.
The struggle with this Spartans team is experience. They have only three upperclassmen on the team, so a lot of focus is on the youth. However, head coach Cathy George believes that the difficulty of the Big Ten season will push the younger players and help them become better.
“There’s no doubt about that the Big Ten season is a grind,” said George at the press conference this week. “But it also provides a certain excitement and a level of play that really draws the best out in you, and when you have a team that is as youthful as we are, it provides opportunities to learn.”
The Spartans first face Penn State Friday at 7 p.m. The Nittany Lions lost their first two games of the Big Ten season — the first time they had done so since 2000. While they had a very successful season last year finishing No. 1 in the Big Ten, their roster is similar to the Spartans this year in terms of the youthfulness.
The Nittany Lions have eight freshman and just three returning starters, so this matchup will not only give one team their first win of Big Ten season, but will also challenge the inexperience of both teams.
The Spartans will then go on to play Rutgers Saturday at 7 p.m. The Scarlett Knights are also 0-2 to start Big Ten play.
Rutgers is good for No. 3 in the Big Ten in blocks per set with 2.92, while Penn State is No. 1 with 3.18. Since these are two teams that are strong on the net, the Spartans will have to be efficient and not allow easy points.
“It’s kind of cool because you don’t get away with anything [in the Big Ten]. If you have a weakness, it is going to be exploited, and there’s great coaches that are going to exploit that so you better get better.”