East Lansing, Mich. -- - Michigan State appears at No. 22 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason poll, as announced by the Association on Wednesday afternoon.
The Spartans advanced to the Elite eight in 2017 and ended the campaign ranked No. 8. After the graduation of seven seniors from that team, Michigan State has reloaded with the No. 15 recruiting class in the country, adding them to a talented class of sophomores which was ranked No. 9 when they entered college a year ago.
"Polls start the volleyball season and give everyone a `buzz' about the upcoming year," said head coach Cathy George. "However, the great thing about our group is that they have worked so hard all summer to be ready to go when we hit the court today for our first official practices. They aren't going to rest on recruiting class rankings or preseason polls to determine their work rate or their effort level.
"We know that we're going to be a work in progress, but I have been really encouraged by what I saw in their attitude when we talked about how we will attack the season. This is a group ready to make its own mark in how we continue the level of success we have enjoyed. It has seemed like a long wait for us to get today's first practice, but now that we're finally assembled as a team, the enthusiasm is contagious."
The Spartans return starting libero Jamye Cox, as well as five in her class which was heralded as a top-10 class a year ago. A healthy Maddie Haggerty will give MSU a six-rotation option along with sophomore Meredith Norris, while junior setter Maggie Midgette and freshman Elena Shklyar will get plenty of reps setting their powerful outsides. Talented middles Naya Gros (No. 35 Senior Ace) and local product Rebecka Poljanwill compete with Julia Hatcher and Bella Legarza. On the outside, Lauren Swartz and Alyssa Chronowski got some reps last year, and are joined by No. 85 senior ace Molly Johnson. In addition to Cox, junior Samantha McLean and newcomers Lauryn Gibbs and Talia Edmonds give the Spartans a solid, productive back line that sets the tone with its passing.
Michigan State is one of seven Big Ten teams in the AVCApre-season poll. Defending National Champion Nebraska (No. 2), No. 4 Minnesota, No. 6 Penn State and No. 9 Wisconsin received spots in the top 10, followed by No. 12 Illinois, No. 22 MSU and No. 23 Purdue. Michigan was receiving votes.
Michigan State began fall camp today and will host its annual Green & White Exhibition game on Saturday, Aug. 18. Admission is free for this first look at the MSU volleyball team, a match that begins at 4 pm at Jenison Field House.
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