Spartans Fall at No. 20 Purdue in Five-Set Battle
Nov. 30, 2013
West Lafayette, Ind. - Michigan State fell in a five-set battle at No. 20 Purdue (25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 25-22, 16-18) on Saturday night to close the regular season. MSU battled back from a 2-1 deficit to force a fifth set, then battled through extra points in the fifth set to fall in a heartbreaker. The Purdue win was its third straight by a 3-2 margin in this series, and this was the first and lone meeting of the teams this season. The Boilermakers improve to 20-11, 11-9 in the Big Ten. No. 17 MSU is 21-11, and 10-10 in the B1G.
Lauren Wicinski hit .306 on the night, contributing 21 kills on 49 swings. She also had 13 digs for a double-double, while also chipping in three blocks. Alexis Mathews had 11 kills and eight blocks, while classmate Kelsey Kuipers contributed a season-best eight kills, hit .467, and had five blocks. For the Boilermakers, Catherine Rebarchak and Val Nichol each had 15 kills, with Rebarchak contributing five blocks. Kiki Jones had seven kills and a team-best six blocks, while Annie Drews had 12 terminations.
MSU rallied early to turn a 2-2 tie into a 7-3 lead to start the first set, as Reinig put the visitors on the board with back-t-back kills to open the game. Mathews and Wicinski contributed terminations, then two straight errors from the Boilermakers forced their bench into a timeout. Three of the next four points (two for each team) came on errors, but teams settled in and began trading points, and MSU built its lead to a match-high six points at 15-9 - at which point Purdue called another time out. The teams traded three-point runs, then MSU used a 4-1 stretch to turn a 19-13 lead into a commanding 23-14 advantage. The home team would not roll over, however, scoring five of the next six points to draw within five, at 24-19 on a pair of kills by Nichol and one from Drews. Wicinski closed out the set, for MSU as the visitors took an early 1-0 lead in the match.
In the second set, MSU trailed 8-7 before using a 5-1 run to take its largest lead of the second set, 12-8. Purdue countered with a 7-3 run of its own to knot the game at 15, getting three kills from Drews and a pair from Nichols. Purdue never took its foot off the gas, taking a 17-16 lead on a big kill from Katie Griffin, then a Spartan error gave Purdue its first multiple-point lead of the night. The home team followed that up with three straight blocks to pull ahead 21-16; MSU stopped the streak with a block at the right pin by Mathews and Taylor Galloway, then had another block by Mathews and Wicinski to cut the Boiler lead to four points, 22-18. Nichol pushed the lead back to five points, the teams traded service errors to move the score to 24-19. Wicinski was able to hold off the set point with a kill to pull back within five points, but a Spartan error gave the Boilermakers the deciding point and a tie match at 1-1.
The Spartans struggled to find their footing in the third set, committing seven early errors that helped lead to the home team to a five-point advatage at 13-8. MSU cut it to three on back-to-back kills by Mathews and Wicinski, and the game alternated between a three-and four-point Purdue lead until a tip by the Boilermakers ended up on the floor on the Spartan side, giving the Boilermakers a 19-14 lead. Coming out of the ensuing MSU time out, the Spartans outscored their hosts 8-3, including four straight points once the Boilermakers got to set point; Wicinski had two big kills (her fifth and sixth of the set), but a Nichol kill sealed the victory for the home team and gave Purdue the 2-1 advantage in the match.
The Spartans, who struggled early in the third set but finished it strong, brought some momentum into the fourth set, and turned a relatively tight one-point lead at 10-9 into a 17-10 advantage on a pair of kills by Mathews, one by Christenson, and four Purdue miscues. With MSU leading 20-15, Purdue scored four straight points, capped by back--to-back blocks by Rebarchak and Faye Adelaja , to pull within a point (20-19); a Wicinski kill and a Purdue error pushed MSU's lead back to three points at 22-20. The home team scored three of the next five points, but MSU put it away on a Purdue attacking error to force a fifth set.
MSU used a four-point run to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead in the fifth set, as Purdue committed three consecutive errors and called timeout. Out of the timeout, Kuipers and Fitterer combined on a block at the right pin, giving MSU a four-point lead. The Boilermakers fought back into it to pull within one, 8-7, on an ace and a kill by Nichol; MSU halted the rally with a Kuipe ers block to make it 9-7. Purdue got back-to-back kills from Drews and Carly Cramer, then a block by Rebarchak on an attempt by Autumn Christenson, to take a 10-9 advantage and get the capacity crowd at Holloway Gymnasium on its feet. MSU called timeout to regroup, and tied the game at 10 on a Christenson kill. MSU committed back-to-back errors, hitting balls long, to give Purdue a two-point lead at 12-10. Out of the ensuing timeout, the teams traded points, but a double hit by the Boilers allowed MSU to cut it to a one-point game, and a big block in the middle by Mathews tied the set at 13. Purdue got a big swing from Kiki Jones to pull ahead, but then hit it out of bounds for another tie at 14-14. Nichol gave the home team match point, but Kuipers hit a sharp shot to tie it at 15. Nichol's shot down the left line again gave her team a lead, but MSU got the point back on a Purdue error, which MSU did on the ensuing play again give the home team match point. The home team got the match victory when a Spartan shot sailed long to seal an 18-16 victory in the final set.
Michigan State completes the regular season at 21-11, and finishes the Big Ten campaign 10-10 and in seventh place. The Spartans will learn their NCAA fate at 9:30 on Sunday evening when the NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs live on ESPNU. MSU is seeking its third consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and sixth under ninth-year head coach Cathy George.
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