Sept. 14, 2013
Indianapolis, Ind. - Michigan State won its first in-season tournament in 2013, sweeping host Butler 3-0 to win the Butler Invitational on Saturday evening. Senior Lauren Wicinski was named tournament Most Valuable Player with a 17-kill, four-dig performance in the final match of the weekend. Junior Taylor Galloway put up 11 kills and six digs, while Alexis Mathews had nine kills.
Mathews and Kori Moster were also named to the All-Tournament Team, along with Belle Obert and Brooke Ruffolo from Butler, Brook Hlafka and Emily Schneider from Illinois State, and Jen Milligan from IPFW.
Butler, a new entry into the Big East Conference, falls to 9-2 on the season. MSU improves to 8-1 overall on the season with wins in six straight matches, dating back to a victory over Virginia Tech on Aug. 31. The Spartans are undefeated in their last 13 sets.
In addition, Wicinski now needs just 10 kills to reach the 2,000 kill mark. She had 45 kills over three games in Indianapolis. She will become the ninth athlete in the Big Ten to reach that number, and the third in MSU history.
"Butler is a good team, and they gave us a good challenge tonight," said head coach Cathy George. "I was pleased to see that when Butler pushed us, we pushed back and didn't allow them to take over.
"As for Lauren, she really stepped up for us again, and she can be just so dominating. She's closing in on that 2,000 kill mark, and it's really an impressive accomplishment."
Michigan State opened the match with a 25-23 victory in game one. Wicinski had six of her kills in the opening set, while Taylor Galloway contributed three kills and three digs. The set was tight throughout, as the Bulldogs came up with 22 digs, led by Brooke Ruffalo with nine in that opening frame. Belle Obert had six kills for the home team as well.
The second set was a tight affair, as the teams frequently traded point-for-point. Tied at 20, the Spartans called timeout, and Wicinski took over after the brief respite - she had three of MSU's final five points on kills, and Ryian Hubbard closed out the second-set win with an ace. Wicinski added another six kills in the set, putting her in double-digit kills for the sixth straight match.
Butler continued to push in game three, and the teams battled point-for-point. Tied at 20, Michigan State called a time out, and the seniors for MSU took over - Wicinski and Mathews each had two kills, and Kelsey Kuipers closed out the three-set victory for the Spartans by recording match point.
MSU will be back in action next weekend when it hosts the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational. MSU takes on Eastern Michigan on Friday night, then battles Duquesne and Cincinnati on Saturday.