New additions, Alyssa Chronowski will be key to Michigan State’s success

Michigan State will next take the court at the College of Charleston Invitational


Meredith Norris/Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Hikaru Kudo, Sports Broadcast Director

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State unofficially kicked off its season tonight with the annual Green and White exhibition game and media day.

The structure of this year’s combined exhibition game and media day was different from what the Spartans have done before. For the first time, media sat on the bench during the exhibition game.

This allowed members of the media to ask questions to assistant coaches throughout the match, join in on huddles and watch the game from a perspective they typically don’t get.

The end result: a better understanding regarding the situation of the team.

This fall, by far, the key to success for the Spartans is the diversity the four new players will add on the court.

Aubrey Alford/Photo: Oklahoma Athletic Communications

Graduate transfer setter Audrey Alford, a veteran who played at Oklahoma during her undergrad years, and freshman defensive specialist/libero Hannah Grant, whose high school team was a state semifinalists, will add experience to the Spartans. Freshman outside hitter Biama Kabengele, who did not play tonight due to an injury, and freshman middle blocker Emma Monks, who came from the nation’s top high school volleyball program, Assumption High School, round out the additions.

Out of the incoming class, Monks and Alford both showed the most potential during the exhibition showdown. Monks hit .417 on the night, which was nearly double of junior outside hitter and ace Alyssa Chronowski’s kill percentage of .197. Monks also booked a handful of blocks for the night, including two solo stuffs of her own.

For the veteran Alford, the setter booked seven digs for the evening, helping out senior defensive specialist/libero Samantha McLean and sophomore defensive specialist/libero Lauryn Gibbs for the evening.

“(She’s) been immersed in volleyball all her life, so she brings that volleyball IQ (to the team),” coach Cathy George said.

The new additions, along with increased team chemistry and experience will potentially help Michigan State reach the NCAA Tournament this year, after finishing shy of the tournament last year.

“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to (last year). The team has come together, really worked, really focused on what they want to do,” George said. “Everybody’s made improvements in so many different areas of the game.”

Alyssa Chronowski/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Junior ace Alyssa Chronowski has been busy during the offseason. While her frontcourt play with kills and blocks continues to improve, she has been working on the area of the court she struggles the most, the backcourt.

“I need my servicing to get a little better, and my backcourt and defense to get better and get in system in the backcourt,” Chronowski said.

Although Chronowski primarily serves her duties on the net, having an outside hitter who can play solid defense and serve well will help her team immensely.

“I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to keep working and you’re going to see a better Alyssa Chronowski,” Chronowski said.

Regardless, only time will tell if the Spartans can put all the pieces together by the end of the season.

Michigan State begins its non-conference schedule at the College of Charleston Invitational next weekend before heading back to Jenison Field House for the Spartan Invitational.

Contact Hikaru Kudo at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @HikaruKudo1.