Nov. 23, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (21-10, 10-9 Big Ten) suffered a tough road loss to No. 22 Michigan (20-11, 8-11 Big Ten), 3-1, on Friday, Nov. 23 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Spartans were led offensively by senior Kyndra Abron's 15 kills, while freshman Kori Moster chipped in 23 digs.
"Tonight just wasn't our night," said MSU head coach Cathy George. "There were moments where we seemed timid, and sat back offensively. We needed to be on the attack from the get go, and be physical all night. Although we do retain the State Pride Flag, it would have been nice to have pulled out the win, especially this late in the season as we begin looking forward to the NCAA Tournament. We need to get back at it on Saturday, and make sure we are ready for a tough Penn State team."
Michigan State took the opening set from the Wolverines, 25-19, backed by Abron's set-high five kills. Abron recorded the first two points of the match for the Green and White, giving the team a 2-1 lead. MSU fell into a rut after a 3-1 lead, as Michigan rallied into the match for its first lead of the match, 5-4. After service was traded between the two squads, the Spartans regained the lead 15-14, forcing a UM timeout. The Green and White pressed on, causing a final timeout to be called by the Wolverines with the lead at five, 20-15. MSU closed out the set with its largest lead of the frame of six, 25-19. Moster chipped in seven digs for the MSU defense.
In a turn of events, the Spartans fell behind early to Michigan and could not get back into the swing of things, dropping set two 25-20. After falling behind early, 2-0, MSU took the next four points for a two-point lead, and its lone advantage of the set. The Wolverines responded with seven of eight, causing an MSU timeout at 9-5. UM doubled up the Spartans at 14-7 to force the final Green and White timeout to be called. After Michigan's lead grew to its largest of nine at 18-9, the Spartans took four of five to get back within six, 19-13. The two teams would continue to trade service, before MSU forced the Wolverines into a timeout at 23-18 following five of six to the Spartans. Michigan State would get back within four at 24-20 before the set ended. Sophomore Jazmine White led the Spartans in kills with three, while Moster backed the defensive effort with five digs.
The Spartans responded out of intermission with an early 9-5 lead in the third, causing an early Michigan timeout to be called. Following the break, the Wolverines took off on a 5-0 run, posting a 10-9 lead. Michigan State fell into a deeper hole after UM lead was three at 17-14, causing the final MSU timeout for the set. The Wolverines went on to claim se three, 25-19. Abron was joined by classmate Jenilee Rathje in kills with six, while Moster led all defenders with seven digs.
MSU looked to get back in the winning side of things in set four, however it fell, 25-19. Rathje was the top attacker for the Green and White with four kills. Moster, again, led all defenders with four digs. After dropping the first two points on the final set, the Spartans clawed back to tie the set at 2-2. Michigan State continued to fall into the hole, forcing a timeout at 8-3. The Wolverines posted their largest lead of the set of six at 11-6, but MSU managed to get back within one, 14-13, to force Michigan timeout. The Spartans could not get any closer than one for the remainder of the set, falling to Michigan 25-19.
Although the Spartans lost to Michigan, 3-1, they retain the "State Pride Flag" on points scored in the season series, 181-179. It is the first time MSU has held the flag in back-to-back season since 2000-01.
Rathje joined Abron with 15 kills, but also chipped in five digs and four blocks defensively. Sophomore Alexis Mathews was MSU's third offensive threat, tallying eight kills against the Wolverines. Mathews led the Green and White in digs with seven. Moster led all individuals defensively with 23 digs, while sophomore Kirsten Kelsay netted nine and senior Becca Zlabis had eight. Kelsay also dished out a team-best 23 assists, while senior Natalie Emro contributed 16.
Michigan State closes out its 2011 regular season on Saturday, Nov. 26 when it hosts No. 9 Penn State inside Jenison Field House at 6:30 p.m. The squad will honor its five seniors - Kyndra Abron, Natalie Emro, Jenilee Rathje, Carli Weiler and Becca Zlabis - at the conclusion of the contest.