Spartans Fall to No. 15 Michigan, 3-1
Oct. 13, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (10-8, 2-5 Big Ten) traveled down the road to face No. 15 Michigan (17-2, 6-1 Big Ten) for its first of two midweek conference matches of the season on Wednesday, Oct. 13. The Spartans fought hard in all four sets, however were unable to pull out the win, falling 3-1 to the Wolverines. Red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje (Mount Pleasant, Mich.) led the Spartan attack tonight with 15 kills, hitting .464 offensively.
The Spartans fell behind early on in the opening frame to Michigan, 3-1. Michigan State responded by taking the next seven points to lead UM, 8-3. Just as the Wolverines pulled within one at 8-7, MSU pushed the lead to three at 11-8. After Michigan tied the set up at 12, the two squads would then begin to trade service until being tied at 19. Then, UM pulled out to a two point lead at 22-20. The Michigan lead became 24-21 before the Spartans pulled within one at 24-23. UM was able to finally close out the set at 25-23. Junior Kyndra Abron (Livonia, Mich.) got the Spartans started in set one with five kills. Junior Becca Zlabis (Wheaton, Ill.) and senior Allyson Karaba (Muskegon, Mich.) each had six digs for the MSU defense.
The Green and White shook off the loss in set one and led the Wolverines in set two, 4-1. UM took four of five to tie the set at five. Another 4-1 run gave Michigan a 10-6 lead, which was then pushed to 12-6 after an additional two points. Michigan's lead slipped to three after the Spartans made the set 15-12. MSU was able to once again get back within two at 18-16 after trailing at one point by four. Five-straight Wolverine points gave them a 23-16 lead. MSU, however, made it 23-19 with three-straight points. UM allowed the Green and White one more point before closing out the set at 25-20. Rathje was the top attacker in the set for MSU with her four kills. Zlabis and Karaba once again were tied in the set with four digs.
In the most thrilling set of the night, Michigan State got out to the 3-1 lead before making the lead three points at 5-2. UM responded to the Spartan offense with four of five points to tie the set at six, which then turned into an 8-6 Michigan lead. Five-straight MSU points put the Green and White in front, 11-8. The Wolverines clawed back into the set, pulling within one at 12-11 before tying the set at 16. The Spartans responded with a 4-1 rally themselves to get out in front, 20-17. Four-straight UM points gave it its final lead of the set at 21-20. The Spartans dug deep to gain the 23-21 lead. With it 24-23 MSU, the Wolverines tied it at 24 before Michigan State finally closed out the set, 27-25. Rathje repeated her strong second set performance in the third with an addition five kills. Freshman Kristen Kelsay (Wheaton, Ill.) and junior Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) each tallied seven assists for the Spartans. Karaba added six additional digs to her total.
The final set opened with neither team wanting to gain control of the set until MSU got out in front, 6-4. UM responded with three straight before once again being tied with the Spartans at seven points and eight points, each. After the teams once again were tied at 10, MSU took a 15-12 lead. The Green and White lead grew to four with the set at 18-14. Michigan slowly began to creep back into the match as it eventually tied the set up at 21. MSU posted its final lead of the match at 23-22 before UM came back to take the match, 26-24. Zlabis was the top offensive force for MSU in the final set of the match with four kills. Kelsay was the top ball distributor for the team with eight assists.
Joining Rathje with a double-digit kill tally was Abron with her 12 kills. Both Kelsay and Emro recorded 28 assists each. Leading the team at the net blocking was Rathje's five blocks. Karaba posted a team-best 17 digs in the effort against Michigan. As a team, MSU out blocked the Wolverines 12-9, as well as out dug UM, 58-54.
After two days off, the Spartans return to action on Saturday, Oct. 16 for a match against No. 20 Northwestern. MSU's match against the Wildcats will be covered by the Big Ten Network and tape delayed until Sunday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. ET.
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