Oct. 18, 2013
Minneapolis, Minn. - Michigan State dropped its first Big Ten Conference match of the season with a 3-2 loss at No. 10 Minnesota on Thursday evening (25-23, 21-25, 26-24, 22-25, 7-15). It was a error-filled slugfest on both sides, as both teams hit under .100, but put up big blocking numbers- Minnesota had 15.5, while the Spartans had 13.
Kristen Kelsay and Lauren Wicinski both had double-doubles for No. 5 MSU (17-2, 6-1), which falls to 17-2 and 6-1 in the Big Ten. Minnesota had a double-double from Daly Santana, who had 11 kills, 16 digs, and seven aces in the Gopher victory, while junior Adrianna Nora had a team-high 12 kills. Minnesota is now 17-4, 5-2 in the Big Ten.
The Spartans had 92 digs in the match, bettering their previous season high set against Illinois State at the Butler Invitational. MSU's 57 assists was also a season high, previously accomplished four times this season.
However, MSU hit a season-low .087 in the match, and its previous low was .102 vs. Pacific in MSU's only other loss of the season. The Spartans committed 40 attacking errors and had 15 service errors, both the high for MSU this season. However, MSU held the Gophers to just .067 in the five sets, but saw the home team record seven kills on 22 swings in the decisive fifth set - hitting their game-high .227. Overall, the Gophers had 32 attacking errors.
"Just too many mistakes," said head coach Cathy George. "The road in the Big Ten is a long and hard one - you really need to bring your best every night, and Minnesota made fewer mistakes than we did tonight. That is a talented team. However, we need to move on and all of our focus needs to be on limiting our mistakes and getting ready for a good Wisconsin team on Sunday afternoon."
Wicinski led all players with 22 kills, which tied her season best, and she added a season-best 15 digs. She also tied her career high in attempts (70), which she had previously set while playing at Northern Illinois, in a Sept. 2011 game against Ball State. Kelsay also had 15 digs, two shy of her career best, while posting 26 assists. Junior libero Kori Moster tied her career best with 29 kills on the night, previously set against San Diego in the NCAA Tournament last December.
Several other Spartans had personal season highs - Taylor Galloway's five blocks was her best on the season, and she added 11 digs, three assists and six kills. Alexis Mathews had her season best in blocks with 10 (two solo, also a 2013 high) to go with nine kills.
Nine of Minnesota's first 11 points to open the set came on Spartan errors, but MSU hung in with big kills from Wicinski (4) and and Mathews (2) and trailed by just two, 11-9. A trio of aces by Gopher Daly Santana allowed the home team to pull ahead 15-9, and forced MSU into a time out.
MSU cut it to 15-11, but the Gophers came roaring back with a three-point run on a pair of big blocks to push their lead to seven points. With Minnesota leading 21-13, MSU got back-to-back kills by Wicinski and Kelsey Kuipers and an ace by Allyssah Fitterer to cut the Gopher lead back to five points, forcing Minnesota into a time out at 21-16.
The Spartans then went on an 8-0 run to turn their significant deficit into a 24-22 lead. MSU got big blocks from Mathews, Galloway, and Chloe Reining, along with ace from Kelsay. Dixon halted the Spartan run with a kill to pull the home team within a point, but Mathews closed it out for the Spartans with a kill to give MSU the opening-set victory.
MSU battled back from an early 6-1 deficit in the second set to tie the game at 11-all. With the game tied at 13, MSU committed six errors compared to two kills for over the next eight plays, allowing the home team to take a 19-15 lead. Ryian Hubbard came in to serve for MSU, recorded back-to-back-aces, and pulled the Spartans ahead 20-19. With the game tied at 21, MSU had a net violation, and put Santana on the line to serve for the Gophers, already with five aces to her credit on the night. Dixon got a kill to put the Gophers up 23-21, then Santana aced her next two serves to secure the second-set win for Minnesota along with a 1-1 tie in the match. Through the first two sets, only three players had kills for Minnesota - Dixon, Santana, and Ashley Whittman, while eight Spartans had recorded at least one and all the non-setters at least two.
The teams battled point-for-point in the early part of the third set, with Reinig and Wicinski getting the early kills and Minnesota countering with Dixon blocks and Santana kills. Minnesota used a five-point run to turn a deficit into the first multiple-point lead for either team in the set at 13-9, after a four-point run on kills from Hannah Tapp, Santana, and Adrianna Nora. After the teams traded points and with the Gophers leading 17-14, MSU went on a five-point run, fueled by two swings from Galloway and one each from Reinig and Wicinski.
With the teams tied at 20, the Spartans got back- to-back kills from Wicinski, forcing Minnesota into a timeout. After trading points, A Reinig kill gave the Spartans set point at 24-22, but Nora recorded her fourth kill of the set to pull the Gophers back within a point, and a Spartan error tied the score at 24. Reinig put her next shot off the arms of Minnesota's back row, then Wicinski closed it out for the Spartans with a big swing from the left side, her 16th kill of the match for a 2-1 MSU lead. Wicinski had 10 kills in the third set alone, hitting .421 while adding an assist and six digs.
The teams traded rallies to open the fourth set . The visitors took a 3-0 lead on a pair of blocks by Mathews and a Gopher error, but Minnesota then had a five point rally on three MSU errors, an ace by Megan Bohl, and a Santana kill. The set then settled into another point-for-point battle as neither team could pull ahead by more than two points until Minnesota sealed the win with a Wittman kill from the left side to take the fourth, 25-22. MSU recorded six blocks in the fourth set, while Minnesota had five. Neither team hit particularly well - MSU had 10 kills and 10 errors on 40 swings, while the Gophers had 11 kills and 10 errors on 44.
Minnesota led 8-6 at the crossover in the fifth set, and went up 12-6 on an ace by Wittman, and back-to-back MSU errors, and Nora's fourth kill of the set. Wicinski stopped the Gopher rally with a kill, but a service ace and another MSU error gave the Gophers match point. Nora iced the match for Minnesota with a kill on the left side, giving the home team the five-set win.
MSU will be back in action on Sunday, when it travels to Wisconsin for a 2 p.m. eastern time matinee. The game will be televised live by the Big Ten Network.