Sept. 10, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (5-2) downed Clemson (6-1), 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-20), in its first match of the 2010 Spartan Invitational on Friday, Sept. 10, Jenison Field House. With the win, the Spartans improve to 2-1 over Clemson all-time. Red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje (Mount Pleasant, Mich.) led the team with a .667 attack percentage while tallying eight kills and four blocks on the night.
Both teams opened the opening set with no offensive advantage. Clemson and MSU continued to trade points with the score 8-7. The Spartans gradually began to pull away from CU as they found themselves with a six point lead at 15-9. Michigan State held onto its six point lead as Clemson called a timeout with the score 17-11. Following the break in action, the Tigers went on a 6-2 run, making the score 18-17, before MSU called its first timeout of the set. Junior Becca Zlabis (Wheaton, Ill.) ended the rally with a powerful kill from the left side. Another kill from junior Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) brought the MSU lead back to three, 20-17. The Spartans maintained their three point lead as they closed out the first set by a score of 25-22. Zlabis was the top attacker for MSU in set one with four kills.
The Spartans jumped out early on Clemson in the second set, leading 4-0. Zlabis slammed away a beautiful set from junior Kyndra Abron (Livonia, Mich.) to make the lead six, 8-2. With MSU in the offensive driver's seat, Zlabis recorded the teams fifth service ace to make the score 12-4, forcing Clemson to call a timeout. Back-to-back blocks from Emro and Rathje helped in putting the second set out of reach for Clemson at 21-12. MSU took four of the last eight points scored to complete set two, 25-16. Rathje was the top offensive attack for the Spartans in the second set with four kills. Emro and red-shirt freshman Alexis Mathews (Detroit, Mich.) each recorded three blocks.
Looking to close out the set with their fourth 3-0 win at home this season, the Spartans once again got out early on Clemson in the final frame. MSU had a 5-1 lead after seeing Zlabis slam home a ball from Abron. A quick set from freshman Kristen Kelsay (Wheaton, Ill.) to Rathje helped in bringing the score to 7-3. With a five point lead at 11-6, MSU forced the Tiger attacker into an attacker error to cause Clemson into its first timeout of the set. Following the timeout, the Tigers went on an 11-5 run, making the score 17-16, to take its first lead of the match since the score was 2-1 in the first set. The run caused the Spartans to call only their second timeout of the match. Following Coach George's timeout, the Green and White would go on a 9-3 run to finish the final set, 25-20. Senior Megan Schatzle (Monroe, Mich.) led the team in the final set with five kills.
Schatzle and Zlabis each led the team on the night with nine kills each. Zlabis added eight digs to the Spartan defense, while senior Allyson Karaba (Muskegon, Mich.) was tops with 12. This marked Karaba's sixth double-digit dig effort of the season. Kelsay was tops on the team with 17 assists, while Emro added another 16 to the total. Zlabis and Emro each tallied three blocks against the Tigers.
In the first match of the tournament, Eastern Michigan (9-0) topped Eastern Illinois (3-2), 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-21).
The Spartans close out tournament action for the fall season tomorrow when they take on Eastern Illinois at 12 p.m., followed by their match against Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m.
Clemson ends its action tomorrow with a 10 a.m. match against Eastern Michigan and its 4:30 p.m. match against Eastern Illinois.