Sept. 16, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (9-1) continued its home win streak with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-18) sweep over Ball State on Friday night (Sept. 16) inside Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Mich. The win marked MSU's fifth straight at home, and fourth straight in 2011. Senior Becca Zlabis and sophomore Kelsey Kuipers led MSU at the net with two solo blocks each.
"The team did a real nice job tonight in making adjustments," said MSU head coach Cathy George. "When we began to struggle in the first and second sets, they rallied together to take care of business, the way a veteran team should. It was great to see them respond during the third set to ensure that it wasn't as close of a set as the first two. We need to make sure we take care of business tomorrow, so we can head into the conference schedule on a high note next weekend."
MSU came out strong in the first set by establishing the early 5-1 lead over BSU, capped off by a block from senior Kyndra Abron and sophomore Alexis Mathews. The Cardinals rallied back to tie set with the Green and White at 6-6 before the Spartans once again held the advantage at 12-8. MSU maintained an 18-16 lead, prior to Ball State holding its first lead of the night at 19-18 to cause the Spartans to call their first timeout of the match. Michigan State began to trade service with the Cardinals, before the Green and White finally regained the lead at 23-22. BSU took the next two points to force set point at 24-22. MSU, however, rattled off three straight to claim the first set, 26-24. Senior Jenilee Rathje was the top attacker during the opening set, tallying seven kills on 13 attacks.
Set two opened with the Cardinals taking the early lead at 3-1. MSU got back into the set by tying it up at four, before once again trading service. The Spartans held a three-point lead over BSU at 16-13 to force the Cardinals into a timeout. After three of the next four points went in favor of the Green and White, Ball State called its second timeout with MSU leading, 19-14. Michigan State remained poised to close out the set, forcing set point at 24-21. Ball State, however, made it a challenge by pulling within one of the Spartans at 24-23, forcing MSU to call a timeout to settle down. Mathews killed the ball in the middle of the court to give the Spartans the 25-23 second set win for the 2-0 lead heading into intermission. Rathje once again led all individuals with five kills on eight attacks during set two.
After attempting to make adjustments in the locker room, the Spartans found themselves in familiar territory, trailing Ball State early in set three, 4-1. The Green and White rallied back to tie the set at five, before finally gaining the first lead of the set at 11-10. Ball State called its first timeout of the set after three straight kills from the Spartans put them in front, 14-11. Michigan State remained poised, looking to close out the match in strong fashion. The Spartans went on to hold its largest lead of the night at 20-14 following a kill from Mathews. Michigan State managed to post five additional points to close out the match with a 25-18 third set win. Abron was the top attacker during set three, tallying six of her 10 total kills.
Rathje paced MSU's attack with 15 kills, and was joined in double-digit numbers by Abron with 10 kills. Sophomore Kristen Kelsay led all individuals with 21 assists, while senior Natalie Emro chipped in an additional 18 assists. Freshman Kori Moster was solid behind the service line with two aces. Moster also led the Spartans with nine digs, followed closely by Rathje's eight. At the net, Kuipers, Abron and Mathews each netted four blocks on the night.
The Spartans return to action tomorrow (Sept. 17) with a noon contest against VCU and a 7:30 p.m. match-up with Sacred Heart.