Sept. 3, 2004
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
In its 2004 season opener, Michigan State (1-0) volleyball downed Ohio (0-1), 3-0, in a convincing shutout victory to complete the first day of Coca-Cola Volleyball Classic competition Friday evening. This marks the eighth consecutive season in which the Spartans have posted a win for their first game.
"This was a really quality win," said Michigan State head coach Chuck Erbe. "It came against a very good team. Ohio is coming off a MAC Championship and they are the kind of team who can give us fits."
In a solid Spartan showing, including 13.5 total team blocks, senior Kim Schram led the team with 18 kills, while freshman Maggie Griffin had a phenomenal career debut, posting 44 assists. Senior Diana Steplyk posted two block solos in the third game alone, which marks a career high for the Libertyville, Ill., native. Her previous best was one block solo, which she achieved on two occasions, most recently at American in September 2003.
"We got steady play out of our returnees and Maggie Griffin had a superb open match," Erbe said of the St. Charles, Ill., native. "She played beyond her years."
The Spartan-Bobcat matchup was close from the start of the first game, with neither team taking more than a three-point lead, until MSU broke a 13-13 tie and took off on a scoring streak to elevate the Green and White advantage. MSU took the first game, 30-26. Schram led the team in kills with six, while junior Marley Bellwood led in digs with nine.
The Spartans capitalized on the momentum of their victory in game one to dominate in the second game. State jumped to an early lead and held off the Bobcats by six points or more throughout competition to take the 30-22 win. Steplyk posted an impressive .556 hitting percentage in game two to aid her team in its win. Schram recorded seven kills, while Steplyk had five. Bellwood's efforts were good for four digs and an individual running-total of 13 digs for two games.
Ohio stepped up its level of competition for the third game, but its efforts were to no avail. When MSU reached its game-point play, State led by a substantial 29-20 points. Still, the Bobcats managed to reduce their scoring deficit, bringing the score to 29-27 with a series of kills from Ohio's standout junior Holly Schetzsle.
Despite Ohio's surprise comeback and MSU's lower-than-average .179 team hitting percentage, a Bobcat service error ensured the Spartan victory. Bellwood posted seven digs in the third game, tallying 20 digs throughout the match to total her career best. The Spartan victory lifts State's all-time record versus Ohio to 2-0.
Tournament action continues on Saturday, as MSU faces St. John's at noon, followed by a State-Florida A&M matchup at 8 p.m. All MSU matches are broadcast live on the Internet at www.msuspartans.com.