Up next: No. 25 Michigan State

The No. 10 Gophers will face another ranked Big Ten opponent Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

Megan Ryan

The No. 10 Gophers will face another ranked Big Ten opponent Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

No. 25 Michigan State has a 14-2 overall record and a 2-2 conference record.

Undefeated in preseason, the Spartans have only dropped matches against Big Ten opponents — No. 12 Purdue in five sets and No. 4 Nebraska in straight sets.

Junior setter Alexandra Palmer said she wasn’t surprised that Michigan State’s two losses were during conference play.

“It’s the Big Ten,” Palmer said. “Every team is tough. Every team is top-25 material.”

The Spartans have garnered accolades from the conference for their defense.

Sophomore libero Kori Moster earned the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award Sept. 3 along with Gophers junior middle blocker Tori Dixon. Two weeks later, Michigan State’s junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews received the same award.

Senior outside hitter Katherine Harms said she’s looking forward to hitting against a strong defensive team.

“Michigan State’s a really good team, and it’s just a challenge,” Harms said. “It’s fun to play a team that’s that good [at defense].”

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said he was pleased with the progress his team made in its 3-1 win against Michigan on Wednesday after the Gophers’ tough 3-0 loss to Penn State last weekend.

Although the team dropped a set against the Wolverines, McCutcheon said losing has its upside.

“The only good thing in my opinion … about losing is you get a chance to learn,” McCutcheon said. “And I think we made some changes tonight not just in the way we played technically but just in the way we played in terms of our commitment to playing as a team. What I hope is that we continue to build on that.”