Nov. 1, 2013
Michigan State snapped a four-match losing streak with a sweep of Ohio State (25-21, 25-23, 25-17) on Friday night at Jenison Field House. Senior Lauren Wicinski had 14 kills, eight digs, and two blocks, while classmate Alexis Mathews had eight blocks and eight kills for the Spartans, who improve to 18-5, 7-4 in the Big Ten, while OSU falls to 14-9, 2-9 in Conference matches. Kaitlyn Leary had 10 kills and five digs for the Buckeyes, while Kylie Randall had 11 kills and a pair of digs.
The 14th-ranked Spartans out-blocked the Buckeyes 9-3, and hit .267 to OSU's .156. MSU picked up its first three-set win since Oct. 11 vs. Iowa; the last five matches for MSU had all gone to four or five sets. MSU also had its first season sweep of the Buckeyes since 2008; MSU swept both matches by 3-0 scores. Halle Peterson had 19 assists and senior Kristen Kelsay had 18, while Kori Moster had 15 digs, four assists, and two aces. Mathews hit .462 in the match (8-2-13), improving her league-best hitting percentage to .429.
"It was a good week of practice for us, and we really concentrated on improving our game and limiting our unforced errors," said head coach Cathy George. "We had the full week of preparation, and really got down to business. I liked the way we came out tonight, and paid attention to the details. We were much better in all areas, and very focused on the task at hand."
The Buckeyes staged valiant rallies in both the opening two sets, but the Spartans remained resilient, getting big plays when they needed them and closing out both sets. MSU overcame an early deficit to post a seven-point win in the third to seal the match.
After an early 3-3 deadlock, the Spartans built to a lead of as many as seven points in the opening set (18-11), but the Buckeyes - who were as desperate to change their recent fortunes as MSU was - kept cutting back into the lead, getting as close as two points, at 22-20. A Wicinski kill restored MSU's lead to three points at 23-20, but Leary, OSU's big hitter, countered with a kill from the left side. A big save by Wicinski and Moster kept a rally alive on the next point, and a error by the Buckeyes gave MSU set point. A block by Mathews and Wicinski on Leary closed it out, giving MSU a 25-21 win in the opening set.
The Spartans used an early six-point run to take an 8-3 lead in set two, forcing OSU into a timeout .An Erin Sekinger kill halted the Spartan run, and OSU put back-to-back points on the board to cut the lead to 8-5. Some of the longest rallies of the match came in the middle of the second set, as several rallies were saved by big plays from the Spartans, followed by emphatic kills. With MSU leading 20-13, OSU started to slowly chip into the lead, using a four-point run to trim MSU's lead to three points and forcing the Spartans to call a time out. OSU tied the score at 21-21, and with the teams tied at 23, a Wicinski kill set up the Spartans for match point. A Mathews solo block wrapped it up - again - for MSU, as the Spartans took a 2-0 match lead.
In the third set, OSU came out a determined club, going ahead by three, 8-5. The Spartans turned it around on their visitors, going on a 9-3 run to turn the deficit into their own three-point lead, 14-11; five of MSUs points in the run came on Buckeye errors, while Kelsey Kuipers had a pair of kills. Battling point-for-point, MSU pushed its lead to five on a kills from Fitterer and Wicinski, then a Fitterer block gave MSU its largest lead of the set (six points) at 19-13. The Buckeyes continued to try to chip away at MSU's lead, but they could not get a leg up on the determined Spartans, as MSU kept its foot on the gas. Leading 20-15, MSU got kills from freshmen Allyssah Fitterer and Chloe Reinig, followed by a Fitterer ace, to pull ahead 23-15. Kylie Randall stopped the Spartan run, but Wicinski earned the point right back to give MSU set point. Randall staved off MSU's first attempt at match point, but an error by the Buckeyes gave MSU the three-set victory.
Reinig was held below 11 kills for just the third time in 11 Big Ten matches; she had seven kills and three blocks. Fitterer had six kills, two aces, four digs, and two blocks. Taylor Galloway just missed her season best in digs, recording 13 along with four kills.
The Spartans return to Jenison Field House on Saturday to host No. 2 Penn State in a match that begins at 8:30 p.m. The game will be televised live by the Big Ten Network; all ticketholders for the MSU-UM football game can produce their ticket stub from the game to receive free admission to the volleyball game.