Sept. 30, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (12-3, 1-2 Big Ten) suffered a tough 3-2 loss to No. 7 Nebraska on Friday, Sept. 30 inside Jenison Field House. Although the Spartans fell short, senior Jenilee Rathje paced the squad with a career-best 27 kills and team-best 12 digs for her second double-double of the season and 10th in her career.
MSU started out the match strong by taking the first two points. Nebraska would tie up the match at six and proceed to trade service with the Green and White. The Cornhuskers called the first timeout of the night with the Spartans leading, 19-18. After three of the next four fell in favor of NU, Michigan State called its first timeout of the match, 20-21. The Spartans rallied back to force the first set point at 24-23, however Nebraska responded with two straight for its first set point, 25-24, forcing MSU to call a timeout. The Cornhuskers took the final two of three to gain the 27-25 first set win. Senior Kyndra Abron was the top Spartan in set one with five kills. She was followed closely by Rathje with four.
The Spartans once again took the opening point of the set in set two. After Nebraska tied the set at one, the Green and White began to slowly pull away from NU, 6-2. Michigan State allowed the Cornhuskers to pull within two at 8-6, but six-straight points for the Spartans forced Nebraska into a timeout at 15-6. The Green and White pushed the lead to eight at 20-12, before allowing the Cornhuskers to get back within six at 21-15, causing the Spartans to call a timeout. MSU wound up earning a 25-16 second set win to tie the set up at one set, each. Abron once again paced all attackers with six kill on the set.
Using the momentum gained from its set two win, MSU fell behind to Nebraska early at 7-10, causing it to call a timeout. After the next three points went to the Spartans, NU called its first timeout of set four with the set tied at 10. The schools continued to trade service until the Green and White once again held the lead at 20-18 with the Cornhuskers calling their second timeout. MSU would go on to take the 2-1 lead over Nebraska following a 25-21 third set win. Rathje led all individuals during set three with eight kills.
Hoping to close out the match in four, the Green and White jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over Nebraska to open the set. NU would tie the set up at two before the two squads began to battle it out in a close set. Nebraska drew first blood to cause the Green and White to call a timeout at 10-12. The Spartans fell into a deeper rut as they trailed by four at 14-18, forcing them to call another timeout. Nebraska closed out set four, 25-17, to tie the match at 2-2. Rathje once again paced the Green and White with seven kills.
With the tides shifting towards Nebraska, the teams battled it out in a hard-fought fifth set. After dropping the first two points of the set, MSU rallied back to tie the set at four. Both squads began to trade points with one another, prior to the teams switching sides with Nebraska leading, 8-7. After the Cornhuskers took the next point, Michigan State called its first timeout. The Green and White battled back to once again the tie set at 14 after Nebraska forced the first match point of the match. The Cornhuskers took the next two points of the contest to earn the 16-14 fifth-set win for the 3-2 win. Rathje led both teams during set five with four kills.
Abron joined Rathje in kills with 20 against the Cornhuskers. Freshman Kori Moster joined Rathje in double-digit dig numbers with 11. Sophomore Kristen Kelsay quarterbacked the Green and White with a season-best 32 assists. Senior Natalie Emro chipped in an additional 21 assists to the Spartan attack. Senior Carli Weiler and Kelsay each led MSU behind the service line with two aces. At the net, sophomore Alexis Mathews paced Michigan State with four blocks while Abron and sophomore Kelsey Kuipers both chipped in three.
The Spartans return to action tomorrow (Oct. 1) when they host Iowa inside Jenison Field House for Pajama night. Action is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. against the Hawkeyes.