Dec. 3, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas - The Michigan State volleyball team's season came to an end on Saturday night, as the Spartans fell 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-22) to No. 1 Texas in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. The Spartans end the season at 22-12 overall, the most wins by MSU since 1998.
"First of all, Texas is a very, very strong team," said head coach Cathy George. "We will always enjoy the memories of this experience maybe we would have liked it in a different way, coming out on top and moving on, but Texas is a quality team. I thought we started getting going in game three and really challenging and doing some of the things that we needed to do in order to be effective.
"I thought we played freer in game three and improved every game as we were going on. Texas started extremely strong and I think we were a little shell shocked after game one and it took us a little time to regroup. Once we did, we started to calm down and we started to be much more aggressive with what we were doing."
Senior Becca Zlabis led the Spartans with nine kills, surpassing 1,000 kills in her career during the evening. Senior Jenilee Rathje and sophomore Alexis Mathews, who hit .500 on the night, each posted eight kills in the loss. Sophomore Kristen Kelsay dished out 14 assists.
The first set was close early with Texas holding a 6-4 lead, but the Longhorn would run off nine of the next 11 points to jump out 15-6. Texas would add another run of six-unanswered points to put the set away, 25-11. The Longhorns hit an impressive .722 in the first set, while MSU was held to a .036 mark.
The Spartans led a couple times in set two, including at 10-9, but Texas took the next three points to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish. MSU would keep it close, down 21-18, but the Longhorns ended the set by winning the last four points for the 25-18 final.
Texas led early in set three, but the Spartans came back to open a 12-10 lead. Again, the Longhorns responded posting a 7-0 run to put the final dagger into the MSU hopes. The Spartans fought to get within two at 24-22, but Texas finished the match off to win the third set, 25-22.
"We've had a great year and this group is made up of five seniors," added George. "This group has been really a major part of our lineup for four years. Jenilee has been through an ACL tear and she's come back and she's had a tremendous year. Becca Zlabis has come through shoulder surgery and she's just getting back to actually the hitting level that she wanted to be this year now. She's finally feeling strong and feeling ready to go. We've been through so much, but this group has been a wonderful group of people to be around. They said they wanted to do something special. They really pulled this team together and took a lot of young ones under their wing and put them in the right direction. I'm pleased.
"I know it was tough in the locker room for us with five seniors but we're moving on and we wish Texas the best of luck in their future in the tournament."