A huge hockey victory. Four straight Big Ten volleyball wins. A chance for a men’s soccer conference championship. That’s some decent salve for the wounds MSU fans incurred from Friday’s men’s basketball loss to Connecticut in Germany.
Let’s start with hockey. MSU took it to bitter rival Michigan, avenging Friday night’s four-goal loss in Ann Arbor with a 7-2 victory Saturday at Munn Arena. The blowout was never in question, starting with Matt Berry’s goal 34 seconds into the game. The sophomore right wing finished with a hat trick in front of a record crowd of 7.225 that even got to exact some revenge on the visitors.
Near the end of Friday’s 5-1 loss in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s student section began chanting “little brothers” at the Spartans. Saturday, the MSU students responded with a “little sisters” chant and took it a step further with a “back to Wal-Mart” heckling of the Wolverines.
Anastos said the crowd impacted his team’s energy level, which he admitted was its best all season. It reminded him and me of the days when Munn was sold out for 323 consecutive games over more than 17 straight seasons from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. The goal, the second-year coach said, is to return the arena to that type of intensity for more than just the Michigan games.
VOLLEYBALL: MSU took out Wisconsin in three sets for its first four-game Big Ten win streak since 2003. The Spartans are now 21-7 overall and 9-7 in the grueling conference, with three of their final four regular-season games on the road. That lone home match? Against Michigan on Nov. 21 at Jenison Fieldhouse. MSU seemingly is assured of its second straight NCAA Tournament berth under coach Cathy George.
MEN’S SOCCER: The Spartans’ stunning Big Ten Tournament run, which included an upset over No. 1-seed Penn State, culminates at 1 p.m. Sunday in the championship game against – you guessed it – Michigan. MSU (10-9-1) is going for its third conference championship since 2006 and the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Sunday’s game will air on the Big Ten Network live from Evanston, Ill.