MSU’s volleyball team competed in one of their toughest tournaments of the season Sept. 16-17. The Bobcats traveled over one thousand miles to compete in Lincoln, Nebraska: home of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. There the team had matches against Nebraska, Creighton and Gonzaga.
“Nebraska was an amazing experience for the team and program,” said Head Coach JJ Riley. “The level of play gave us a picture of the type of volleyball that we are trying to play here [at MSU].”
The Cats’ first match of the tournament was against Big 10 Conference powerhouse and No. 1 ranked Nebraska. The team lost in three sets 25-15, 25-5 and 25-16. Senior hitter Eli Svisco led the team in kills with six of the 21 total followed by junior Kiana Black and sophomore Chase Doughty with five and four, respectively. Junior setter Katie Rutecki had 14 assists. Freshman defensive specialist Alyssa Rizzo and sophomore hitter Natalie Passeck led the team in digs with seven and four, respectively.
“I thought we did some great things versus Nebraska and now we just need to work hard to sustain those moments of play over long periods of time,” said Riley.
Later that evening, MSU competed against Creighton. Once again, the team put up a strong fight but lost in three sets 25-12, 25-14 and 25-12. Team leaders were Passeck with seven kills, freshman Evi Wilson with five kills and Black with three. Rutecki and freshman setter Sydney Mathison led in assists with 11 for Rutecki and seven for Mathison. Rizzo had 13 digs to lead the team.
The Bobcats’ last match was held on Sept. 17 against Gonzaga. The team struggled in the first two sets and rallied in the third, but their efforts were not enough, losing in three sets 25-12, 25-14 and 25-20. Doughty had a team high of eight kills, followed by Passeck and Black with four and three, respectively. Rutecki had 11 assists and Rizzo had 11 digs.
After competing in three non-conference tournaments, the Bobcats are anticipating their return to conference play. “We are excited for the start of conference [play] this week. We need to take everything that we have learned about ourselves individually, as well as a team, over the past month and continue to improve daily. We can put the past behind us and focus on the conference,” said Riley.
The Cats will host University of Idaho on Sept. 22 and Eastern Washington on Sept. 24. The Cats will host University of Idaho at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22, followed by Eastern Washington at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 24.