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Sweep Of Wolverines Earns MSU State Pride Flag

Lauren Wicinski

Nov. 27, 2013

Ann Arbor, Mich. - Michigan State swept archrival Michigan (25-20, 25-16, 25-22) on Wednesday night in Ann Arbor. The teams split the season series, but the Spartans (21-10, 10-9 B1G) retained the State Pride Flag for the fourth straight season. With each team winning on its rival's floor, the Flag winner was decided by number of sets won ; MSU fell to UM 3-1 in East Lansing, but swept the Wolverines in Ann Arbor to win that comparison, 4-3. Michigan is now 17-13, 7-12 B1G.

Lauren Wicinski was just shy of a double-double, with 19 kills and nine digs, hitting .395, her best effort since hitting better than .500 against Iowa on Oct. 11. Alexis Mathews had nine kills and eight blocks, hitting .571 on 14 swings. Senior Kelsey Kuipers had a career-best six blocks, and added two kills; Allyssah Fitterer had five blocks and four kills, while Chloe Reinig contributed seven kills on the night. Wolverines a lead no greater than two points at any point in the match.

"I think that we saw a lot of good things tonight," said head coach Cathy George. "I think rivalry games can really bring out the best in people. I know our seniors weren't thrilled that Michigan came into Jenison and beat us earlier in the season, so that was a factor. I thought we really stuck to our game plan and executed well tonight. There were great performances from our seniors, - 19 kills from Lauren [Wicinski], eight blocks and nine kills from Alexis [Mathews], a career-best in kills from Kelsey {Kuipers], and Kristen Kelsay with 21 assists and seven digs. But honestly, everyone played well. Its important for us to get it going with the NCAA Tournament around the corner."



The Spartans took a 8-3 lead, using three blocks (two each by Fitterer and Kuipers) nd two kills each for Mathews and Wicinski. Coming out of a timeout, Michigan got three straight points (two from senior Lexi Erwin) to cut it to a two-point match. Leading 10-8, Fitterer served three straight points (including an ace), pushing the Spartans' lead back to five points at 13-8. The teams traded points, as UM tried to cut into the lead but the Spartans countered at each push from the home team, forcing the Wolverines to call a timeout trailing 16-11. Molly Toon recorded back-to-back points for her teams to make it 16-13 MSU, but Mathews quickly roofed the next point to get the sideout for the Spartans. Michigan cut the lead down to two points (17-15), but MSU went on a four-point run - helped by two Wolverine attacking errors - to move ahead by six, 21-15. The two teams traded the next eight points, but despite the Wolverines putting back-to-back points on the board when MSU had set point, Mathews sealed the first-set victory with her fifth kill of the night.

Toon gave Michigan an early lead with back -to-back kills, but MSU quickly regained the lead on a Wicinski kill, Wicinski and Mathews combining on a block, and consecutive Michigan errors forced the Wolverines to call timeout when MSU took a 5-2 lead. Coming out of the UM timeout, MSU again outscored its hosts 5-2 to stake a 10-4 advantage. The Spartans were doing a lot of damage at the net - five blocks in the first set, three more in the second set to at the point UM called time out as the Spartans forged a 12-5 advantage. MSU pushed it up to 16-7, at which point the teams began trading points. Halle Peterson came to the service line with MSU leading 20-11; her first two serves were trouble for UM libero Sabol, as Sabol sent them back over the net on an overpass - which became immediate Wicinski terminations. Her third serve was an ace, but Ally Davis halted the Spartan run, at 22-12. Fitterer had the next two MSU kills, sandwiched around an error and a Jennifer Cross kill for UM, to give the Spartans match point at 24-14. Two more UM points - a Davis kill, and a Spartan error - gave UM its 15th and 16th point, but Reinig's rocket from the left side gave MSU a 2-0 match lead.

MSU led 6-1 early in the third, but the Wolverines took advantage of a handful of MSU errors to get back into the set at 9-8. The home team took just its third lead of the match when it pulled ahead 11-10, part of a 4-0 run for the Wolverines. MSU halted the run, which began a stretch where the game was tied at every point from 10-10 to 20-20; The Spartans put together a two-point lead on a Mathews kill, then a block by the senior and Reinig to lead 22-20. Wicinski scored the next two points for the visitors to give MSU a 24-22 lead, forcing a Wolverine timeout. The Spartans sealed the victory as Kuipers and Wicinski combined on a block of Abby Cole to finish off the 3-0 sweep.

The Spartans wrap the regular season with its lone match against Purdue. The Boilermakers also earned a sweep on Wednesday, downing travel partner Indiana, 3-0. Gametime on Saturday is 7 p.m.

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