Birmingham, Alabama -- - Freshman Holly Toliver turned in her second straight double-digit kill performance, tying Allyssah Fitterer with 10 for the match as Michigan State defeated UAB, 3-0, in the second game of the UAB/Samford Invitational. MSU is now 2-0, and will play Jacksonville State and Samford on Saturday to conclude the tournament.
Toliver finished with 10 kills on 25 swings (.240), and added two digs and tied for the team best with four blocks, one solo. Fitterer had 10 kills and hit .444, and had a pair of blocks. Senior Jazmine White and freshman Alyssa Garvelink each had eight kills - White added three blocks, while the first-year Garvelink had four and hit .429. A third freshman starter, Rachel Minarick, had 37 assists and hit .667 (five kills on six swings). She also added six digs and a pair of blocks.
Sophomore Chloe Reinig hit a career-best .545 in the UAB match, a new career high. She finished with seven kills on 11 swings. Earlier in the day she had established a new high against Southeastern Louisiana (.417), a new mark it took her just over five hours to shatter.
"The goal at this point of the season is still to get better every time you hit the floor, and to become more cohesive as a group," said head coach Cathy George. "You have to try different things, let people settle into new roles, and get your freshmen an opportunity to play acclimated to the college game. Now we can take today's experience and try to improve upon it tomorrow against Jacksonville State and Samford."
The Spartans used several mini-runs in the opening set, putting together four three-point stretches to maintain control throughout and take a 25-20 victory. UAB staved off match point three times at the end, getting a kill and a block from Bethanie Thomas followed by a Spartan error, but MSU closed it out on a kill by Fitterer. MSU brought out a balanced attack in the opening frame, hitting .344 as a team with five players posting between two and four kills.
In the second set, MSU kept its foot on the gas and allowed back-to-back points to the Blazers on only one occasion. Toliver had five kills on seven swings, while Reinig was a perfect 4-for-4 to do the bulk of the damage for MSU. The Blazers were victimized by seven attacking errors, hitting -.125 for the set.
The hosts came out scrappier in the third after a break, and trailed by just one at 4-3 - but MSU went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-3 lead, and despite the home team trying to chip away at the Spartans' advantage, the closest they would get is five points as the Spartans closed out the win with a 25-19 decision in the final sete. Garvelink had five of her eight kills in the final set, while Minarick had three kills and 16 of her 37 assists. Fitterer also terminated on all five of her swings, including the match point.
Senior co-captain White's eight kills was her most in a match since Oct. 6, 2012 vs. Minnesota. She hit .357 and added three blocks.
The Spartans will be back in action in a noon match vs. Jacksonville State at Samford's Pete Hanna Center.