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Michigan State Volleyball Faces USA National Team

Sept. 13, 1997

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan State volleyball team will play an exhibition match against the USA Women's National Volleyball Team on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., at 7 p.m. Team USA split a pair of matches with Germany in its first appearance in Grand Rapids last July.

The contest will be another homecoming for former Spartan All-American Val Sterk, a native of Byron Center. Sterk, who played at MSU from 1993-96, guided the Spartans to two Big Ten titles, three NCAA Tournament appearances and a trip to the 1995 Final Four during her four-year career. A two-time first-team All-American, Sterk recently had her No. 12 hung from the rafters in Michigan State's Jenison Field House.

"This is the first in a series of outreach projects as the Michigan State Athletics Department begins to expand its horizons," MSU Athletics Director Merritt J. Norvell Jr. said. "There is a large alumni base in Grand Rapids and this special event gives us the opportunity to take a contest to our fans. It isn't always convenient for fans and alumni in Grand Rapids to travel to our campus to attend athletic events. Now, we're bringing a team to Grand Rapids so alumni and fans can watch and experience Spartan athletics firsthand.

"Grand Rapids has produced a large number of student-athletes currently listed on Michigan State varsity sports rosters. We anticipate this area being a rich source for future MSU student-athletes.

"We're truly excited about taking our nationally ranked volleyball team to Grand Rapids and we look forward to hosting a special event annually in the area."

The USA Women's National Team includes former Big Ten players Salima Davison (Penn State) and Jenny Jackson (Ohio State) along with Sterk. The squad, coached by former Texas head coach Mick Haley, includes just two players (out of 13) with 20 or more matches of international experience.

The USA Women's National Team compiled a 6-10 record from June to August and will resume play later this month at the Norceca Championships in Caguas, Puerto Rico. After returning from Puerto Rico, Team USA will play several exhibition matches against some of the top collegiate teams in the country. In addition to Michigan State, the National Team is scheduled to play Kansas State (Sept. 29), Nebraska (Sept. 30), Penn State (Oct. 6), Washington State (Oct. 11), Washington (Oct. 12), Colorado State (Oct. 21), Texas Tech (Oct. 27), Texas (Oct. 28) and Texas A&M (Oct. 29).

Michigan State is ranked No. 11 in the nation and is off to a 5-1 start in 1997. The Spartans are competing in the UC Santa Barbara Invitational this weekend and will return home on Sept. 26 to play Wisconsin at 7 p.m. as MSU begins defense of its Big Ten title.

Tickets are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for youth and will be on sale at the gate. Passes for free admission will be made available in advance at outlets throughout Grand Rapids. Those outlets will be announced next week.

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