Promising freshmen, strong returning core will look to lead Spartans in 2019

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Alyssa Chronowski/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Amanda Poole, Sports Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Since the 2019 schedule has been released, the potential success of this year’s Michigan State volleyball team has been predicted by many. But a tough non-conference schedule, paired with consistently relentless Big Ten competition is sure to challenge the Spartans. 

In 2018, Michigan State went 17-16 overall and 5-15 in conference play. The Spartans had the youngest roster in their conference. After losing just one senior to graduation (Maddie Haggerty), the team is headed into the 2019 season with more educated and experienced players. 

Armed with four new freshmen and 14 returning players, MSU is capable of making a run this year. 

Maddie Haggerty/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

The freshmen

Hannah Grant

A former team captain from Northville, Michigan, Grant equips MSU with a defensive option to aid starting libero Jamye Cox this season. Coach Cathy George considers Grant’s competitive attitude and determination as a significant factor in her play. 

Biamba Kabengele

This 6-foot star from Ontario, Canada will be utilized within the Spartan offense. Kabengele is an explosive player who uses the deadly combination of her athleticism and aggressive swings to execute as an outside hitter. 

Emma Monks

Acting as a defensive barrier at the net, Monks’ length and agility can create match-winning plays. The 6-foot-3 blocker is from Louisville, Kentucky, where she developed her skills through elite clubs. 

Aubrey Alford/Photo: Oklahoma Athletic Communications

Audrey Alford

The Spartans obtained a seasoned athlete in Alford for the 2019 roster. The graduate transfer from Oklahoma is just as much as an offensive playmaker as a defensive threat. Her experience can only benefit the fairly young roster. 

Returning players to watch

Alyssa Chronowski

Get ready to hear this name a lot more. After collecting 365 kills last season, the second-highest to Haggerty with 257, Chronowski has shown her worth on the court. An intense athlete on and off the court, Chronowski averaged 3.02 kills per set last year while shutting down defensively with 58 blocks. Her contagious energy and leadership characteristics as a junior this year will help lead the Spartans through a challenging schedule ahead.

Jamye Cox

A staple in the Spartan defense, Cox is one of the most consistent players on the squad. She averaged 3.81 digs per set last year and provided an aggressive floating serve. Her defense and poise in the back row will dig the Spartans out of tough deficits this year.

Naya Gros

Gros appeared in all 33 matches during the 2018 season, the 6-foot-3 New Orleans, Louisiana native broke records and stamped her name in MSU record books. Gros averaged 2.08 kills, which set the new freshman record for hitting percentage at MSU. She served as a defensive weapon too, leading the team with 143 blocks in 2018. Although young, she will continue to play a game-changing role throughout the 2019 season as she has significant conference experience.

Rebecka Poljan

With one year under her belt, Poljan’s experience will rise to the surface this year. Although her name might not have been plastered all over last season’s successes, Poljan’s quiet scoring will be heard this season. In 2018, Poljan recorded 100 blocks (right behind lead blocker Gros) and 121 kills.

Michigan State will use this 2019 season to showcase growth, experience and development. Equipped with key players like Chronowski, Gros and Cox, along with four new recruits holding immense potential, the Spartans are ready for a fight this season.  

See the 2019 schedule at msuspartans.com

Contact Amanda Poole at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @amanda_1815.