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Sweet-16 Bound Spartans Down No. 9 Seed Creighton, 3-1

Dec. 2, 2017

Box Score | PDF Box Score: MSU 3, Creighton 1

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No. 12 Michigan State advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2017 NCAA Tournament with a 3-1 victory (25-23, 19-25, 25-20, 25-16) over No. 9 overall seed and 15th-ranked Creighton on Saturday night in Omaha, Neb.

MSU rallied in the third and fourth frames to seal the win, hitting .300 in both sets and finishing with a .325 hitting percentage overall. The Spartans improve to 23-8 overall, while the Bluejays conclude their season with a 26-7 mark.

The Spartans had a pair of players with double-doubles - 18 kills and 11 digs for Autumn Bailey and 13 and 11 digs for Holly Toliver. Brooke Kranda and Alyssa Garvelink also had 13 kills for the Spartans, as Garvelink hit .455 and added a match-high four blocks. Kranda, Toliver, and Garvelink all had their career-best kill totals in an NCAA Tournament game.

After a point-for-point battle in the first set that resulted in a two-point Spartan victory, Creighton had all the momentum in the second set and took a 25-19 win in the second frame. The Spartans began to capture momentum in the late part of the third set and held it through the fourth and deciding frame. The teams were tied 37 times and the match had 19 lead changes, including nine in the third set.

MSU heads to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2013 and for the seventh time in school history.

The Spartans will take on Big Ten foe Illinois, upset winners over No. 8 seed Washington, next Friday in the Penn State regional. No. 1 Seed Penn State will tangle with Missouri, which also scored an upset over No. 16 seed Washington State. The Nittany Lions are the only seeded team remaining in this pod.

""What a great match - it was exciting from beginning to end, with a lot of intrigue and drama. I thought it was great match. Creighton is a fabulous team and we knew that coming in. You know they have so many talented players and we have lot of respect for the program. We did feel that things in game three started to go our way a little bit. We chipped away got a little better with our platform. We started working to stay in system and let them and our blocking game got our systems better. I'm real pleased with what happened and how our players stepped up..

I'd like to thank Creighton as a site host - it was wonderful. The fans, the crowds, the student group ... just the kind of program that was built here at Creighton is really impressive and we're lucky to come out of alive and to be able to advance. They ran a fantastic tournament in every facet, and we all owe them a huge thank you."

- Head Coach Cathy George


  • Autumn Bailey tied her season-best with 18 kills and added 11 digs and two blocks. She recorded her 11th double-double of the season.
  • Holly Toliver had 13 kills and 11 digs, adding three assists. Her 13 kills is a career NCAA Tournament high.
  • Rachel Minarick had 47 assists, nine digs, two blocks, and four kills, hitting .800 (4-0-5)


  • The Spartans head to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013.
  • Three of the four teams to advance into the University Park regional did so by upsetting a seeded squad. Illinois beat the No. 8 seed Washington, MSU defeated No. 9 Creighton, and Missouri downed No. 16 Wichita State.
  • Brooke Kranda had 13 kills, three aces, and two blocks.
  • Jamye Cox was one shy of her career best with 23 digs. She had 16 in the first round vs. Missouri State.
  • Rachel Minarick's second-set service ace that gave the Spartans a 12-10 lead was the 132nd of her career,. She finished the game with two for 133 in her career, good for 10th place in MSU's career annals.
  • Michigan State had 67 kills, seven blocks and five aces to account for 79 of its 94 points on the night.



  • SET ONE: The teams brought a ton of energy into the opneing set, and traded points. Each team had a two-point edge - the Spartans at 8-6, and the Bluejays at 10-8 - but a pair of MSU errors allowed the home team to push it out to three points at 12-9 and MSU called a time out. Kranda's big swing out of the break got the sideout, and a block by Toliver and Kranda trimmed it back to a one-point Creighton edge. The Spartans tied it back up again at 15-15, and the teams continued a point-for-point battle. Back-to-back kills by Garvelink and Toliver gave MSU back the lead at 22-21, the Spartans' first lead since 8-7. Up 23-22, Bailey took a big swing off the block to get MSU to set point, and the Bluejays commmitted a blocking error to give the Spartans set point. In all, MSU collected 18 kills in that opening set, hitting .444 and posting a pair of blocks - B ailey had six kills on 10 swings and added a block, while both Toliver and Garvelink had four kills. Creightong hit .282, led by four kills from Marysa Wilkinson.  
  • SET TWO: The script for the second set followed the first very closeley - both teams briefly had two-point leads, with MSU's coming at 9-7, at which point Creighton called time out. The Jays got the sideout right out of the break, and then a Spartan error tied the game 9-9. MSU rallied back to take a 12-10 lead on a 3-1 run capped by a Minarick ace, but the home team countered with a 9-2 run to pull ahead by five, 19-14, forcing the Spartans to take their second time out. Creighton's lead grew to as many as six (21-15), and the Jays had a 24-17 lead when they got to set point. MSU fought it off twice, but a sharp kill that kissed the back corner sealed it for Creighton. The Blue Jays hit .432 in the frame, getting five kills from Wilkerson and four each from Jaali Winters and Taryn Cloth. MSU had both Bailey and Garvelink with four kills, and after a hot .444 in the first set, the Spartans more than doubled their hitting errors, compiling five against 14 kills.  
  • SET THREE: MSU jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third, but Creigton fought back to take a 6-5 lead. The battle for every point began again in earnest, as the teams found themselves within a point of one another as they fought towards 20. With 18s on the scoreboard, the Spartans got consecutive terminations from Megan Tompkins and Brooke Kranda to take a 20-18 lead, and Creighton called time out. The Jays got a kill out of the break, but a pair of heads-up kills by Garvelink and Toliver made it 22-19 in favor of the Spartans. After a Kranda kill for a sideout, Toliver got the Spartans to set point, and the Jays called their second time out. Toliver finished it off for MSU with her 11th kill of th night, sending the Spartans to the fourth set with a 2-1 advantage. Toliver and Bailey each hit 5-1-10 in the set, as MSU had 19 kills against seven errors. Megan Ballanger had three kills for Creigton to lead the Jays offense, which hit .250 in the frame with just 11 terminations.  
  • SET FOUR: The Spartans built to six- (8-2) and eight-point (11-3) leads in the second set, at which point the Bluejays had used both timeouts. MSU put six of their first eight swings on the floor, and combined with a pair of aces from Kranda to build th lead. Creighton got three points back to trim it to 11-6, and Cathy George called time out. A Tompkins kill halted the Creighton run, and MSU just kept its foot on the gas, as it held on to the momentum it had strugged to find early in the match. Creighton brought their best, and kept MSU's lead to six points, but the Spartans were big at the net, scrappy in the back row, and able to handle what the Bluejays were throwing at them in an effort to claw into the lead. The visitors finished with 16 kills and hitting .324 in the set, siding out at a remarkable 76% in the final frame. Six Spartans players had either two or three kills each, once again evenly distributing its offense, while Jamye Cox had eight of her 23 digs. The Spartans also limited Creighton to a match low .167 hitting percentage.


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