Nov. 28, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Spartans' lone senior Heather McDaniel (Madison Heights, Mich.) posted the first double-double of her career as the 2008 Michigan State volleyball team (15-15, 7-12 Big Ten) topped Iowa (14-18, 6-14), 3-1 (28-26, 15-25, 25-22, 25-15), Friday night at Jenison Field House. McDaniel finished the match with a career-best 12 kills and 14 digs. The win keeps the Spartans alive for NCAA Tournament consideration.
Freshman Becca Zlabis (Wheaton, Ill.) added a team-best 15 kills while sophomore libero Allyson Karaba (Muskegon, Mich.) added 20 digs, moving her into second-place on the all-time single-season digs list with 499.
"I think we played pretty well at times," said head coach Cathy George. "Aside from a letdown in set two, we did a great job of executing our game plan. It could have been better without the letdown in set two, but we did a great job of coming back from that and I thought we played really hard tonight."
The Spartans opened the first set with an early 5-1 advantage after kills from four different Spartans and an attack error from the Hawkeyes. Although Iowa rallied to cut the lead to 6-5, they had no answer for the Spartan attack as MSU scored 12 of the next 17 points to open up an 18-11 lead. Junior Vanessa King (Spring Lake, Mich.) and Zlabis paced the Spartans during that stretch, tallying two kills apiece. Neither team put up a solid block in the first set as both teams were able to swing freely. After MSU opened their nine point lead, Iowa rallied to tie the score at 20. MSU and Iowa exchanged points from that point until the set was knotted at 26. After an attack error from Iowa's Paige Stevens, MSU earned its fourth set point of the match. That is when junior middle hitter Mischelle Nelson (Naperville, Ill.) sent a slide to the back row, giving the Spartans a 28-26 set one victory.
Neither team recorded a block in the first set and both teams boasted extremely efficient attacks. MSU hit .419 while Iowa hit .333. Karaba posted 10 of her 20 digs in the first set alone as MSU was able to post 22 as a team in the first set. King led the way for MSU with five kills while Zlabis finished the set with four. Three other Spartans - McDaniel, Megan Schatzle (Monroe, Mich.) and Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) - posted three kills as the Spartans notched 20 as a team. Emro assisted on a set-high 16 of those 20 kills.
The Spartan attack was nowhere near as efficient in the second set, and the results showed on the scoreboard. MSU hit -.045 in the second set as only two Spartans, Nelson and Kyndra Abron (Livonia, Mich.) finished the set in positive numbers. Although MSU dropped the set 25-15, Karaba was able to tally her 17th dig of the match, moving her into second-place on the all-time single-season dig list with 496. Through two sets, she had 18 digs to lead both teams. King added two more kills to give her a team-high seven kills. McDaniel added seven digs in the second frame.
Coming out of intermission, the Spartans rallied behind the play of their lone senior on senior weekend. McDaniel tallied four kills in the set, helping MSU to a 25-22 win in the third frame. Zlabis was also key in helping the Spartans win the frame, posting two of her five kills and a service ace in the final five points of the set. Neither team built a substantial lead until a kill from Zlabis made the score 22-20 in favor of the Spartans. McDaniel and Zlabis both added kills before Zlabis aced Catherine Smale of Iowa to win the set. MSU rebounded from hitting -.045 in the second set to hit .312 in the third. Emro handed out 14 assists in the frame.
Riding the play of McDaniel and Zlabis, MSU jumped all over Iowa in the fourth set, opening a 9-4 edge over the Hawkeyes. Iowa could not overcome the efficient Spartan attack as Emro Spread the ball all over the floor. MSU, just like the first set, hit better than .400 at .429 in the fourth, giving them a 25-15 win. The Spartan block also improved as they posted four of their seven blocks in the final frame. Teamed with 12 digs, MSU limited Iowa to a .062 hitting percentage, their worst of the night.
Emro finished the match with 51 assists and five kills. King totaled nine kills and a team-high three total blocks. Zlabis led the way with 18 points while McDaniel pitched in 14. Nelson finished the match with two service aces as MSU posted six as a team.
The Spartans will conclude the regular season tomorrow night against No. 12 Minnesota at Jenison Field House. The match is slated to begin at 6:30. McDaniel will be the lone honoree during the senior-night festivities after the match. Live audio/video with John Kreger, along with a link to live stats will be provided at www.msuspartans.com.