MSU Sweeps Northwestern; Win Streak Reaches 13
Spartans improve to 4-0 in the nation's top volleyball conference
Oct. 5, 2013
East Lansing, Mich. - - Michigan State extended its winning streak to 13 straight matches with a 3-0 victory over Northwestern on Saturday night at Jenison Field House. No. 9 MSU, now 15-1 (4-0 Big Ten) is off to its best start since the 1996 season, when the Spartans won their first 12 Big Ten matches. Northwestern is now 9-7, 1-3 in the Big Ten.
Lauren Wicinski and Chloe Reinig were again MSU's top offensive weapons, as the senior Wicinski posted a 19-kill, four-ace, six-dig performance along with three blocks; she hit .452 in the match, while Reinig (11-2-16) hit .562. Reinig had four blocks to go along with her 11 kills. Alexis Mathews tied her season best with nine blocks, while also contributing six kills.
The two teams battled through a tight opening set, with neither team able to pull ahead by more than two points. With MSU leading 21-20, Wicinski went to the line to serve, and helped her own cause with back-to-back aces, then a kill to give the Spartans set point. Wicinski's next serve sailed into the net for an error, but classmate Kelsey Kuipers came up with the big kill on the ensuing play to seal the first-set victory. Wicinski had seven kills and the two aces in the opening set, along with a block and three digs.
MSU took control early in the second set and cruised to a 25-12 victory. MSU opened up a six point lead at 8-2, then pushed it to as many as 12 points at 21-9. Reinig had eight of her kills in that second set (on nine attempts), while Wicinski chipped in five with a third ace and two more blocks.
Northwestern regrouped for the third set, and led by as many as three points with an 11-8 lead. However, the Spartans would not roll over that easily - MSU reeled off an 11-1 run, using six Northwestern errors and two kills from Wicinski in the run. The senior's fourth ace of the night gave MSU a 24-16 lead, but five consecutive errors by the Spartans allowed NU back into it. Finally, at 24-20, Wicinski put the match away with her seventh kill of the game and 19th of the night.
On the weekend, the freshman-senior duo of Reinig and Wicinski made it difficult on the Illinois and Northwestern defenses. Reinig hit .571 over the two games, (23-3-35), and adding five blocks; Wicinski's line of 37-8-60 (.483) was impressive enough, but she also contributed four aces, 11 digs, and six blocks. Mathews clogged the middle with 14 block assists, (2.33 per set), and also contributing 13 kills and hitting .524.
Michigan State has another pair of Jenison games on tap, welcoming Iowa and No. 10 Nebraska to Jenison Field House next Friday and Saturday. Gametime each evening is 7 p.m. The Saturday showdown with the Cornhuskers will be a top-ten battle; MSU earned its first program win over Nebraska last year at Jenison.