EAST LANSING, Mich. – Off-season training is in full swing for the Michigan State volleyball program as the team began preparing for the 2023 season this past week. Splitting time between skill training and strength & conditioning, in addition to wellness (nutrition, mental health skills), the Spartans are in their 8-hour off-season practice window.
Why only eight hours you might ask? Outside of the declared playing season, student-athletes are limited to eight hours of athletic activities each week, which includes weight training, conditioning and skill instruction. No more than four of those eight hours can be dedicated to skill instruction. Those hours will increase to a maximum of 20 later in the spring.
“We’re working on offense for the first two weeks and will focus on defense for the next two, taking us into our 20-hour segment later this spring,” said assistant coach Jake Barreau. “This week we re-introduced some technique and next week we’ll talk more about systems. There are a few fresh faces in the gym who are new to everything we do, so we’re hoping to get into a good rhythm.”
Speaking of new faces, Zheng Xiang joined the coaching staff as an assistant on January 10, coming to MSU after five seasons as an assistant and four seasons as associate head coach at Rice University. Samford transfer Kaya Hood and early-enrollee freshmen Cameron Berger and Taylah Holdem also joined the program at the start of the semester. Berger was an AVCA All-Region selection as a high school senior and Holdem is the third international student-athlete on the roster, arriving in East Lansing from Christchurch, New Zealand.
Barreau is leading practices for the Spartans while head coach Leah Johnson is away on maternity leave after welcoming her daughter, Rosalind, into the world on Jan. 2. Michigan State enters its first full off-season under Johnson with a head of steam as the team looks to build upon a 2022 campaign that saw the program work to cultivate a growth mindset.
MSU entered last spring with just eight players and had to tailor training around a limited roster that featured only four middles, two defensive specialists, one pin and one setter until…
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