Dec. 4, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Michigan State volleyball team (17-16) saw its 2009 season come to an end as it fell 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-20) to site host No. 13 Kentucky on Friday, Dec. 4, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The appearance marked the Spartans' third tournament in four years. The loss ended the career of two Spartans, Mischelle Nelson (Naperville, Ill.) and Vanessa King (Spring Lake, Mich.). Leading the Spartans with her eighth double-double of the season was sophomore Becca Zlabis (Wheaton, Ill.), tallying 10 kills and 10 digs.
"I was very proud of the fight from the girls tonight," said head coach Cathy George. "But in the end, Kentucky was just a more physical team and got the better of us. This team will look at it as a learning experience as we look forward to next year. For me, it is sad to see our two seniors (Mischelle Nelson and Vanessa King) go, as they were a part of our first ever recruiting class here."
MSU was out early to begin the first set, 3-2. UK rallied three straight points after being tied with the Spartans at 10 to lead 13-10. After Kentucky was leading 15-12, the Spartans scored three straight points, tying the match at 15. Michigan State once again regained the lead with the score 19-18, but the Wildcats retook the lead at 23-20. However, after three straight MSU points, the set was once again tied at 23. UK closed out the set by taking the final two points, winning 25-23. Sophomore Kyndra Abron (Livonia, Mich.) ended the first set with a perfect hitting mark on four kills.
To begin the second set, the Spartans once again struck early, leading 2-0. However, the Wildcats took six of seven points to lead the set 6-3. After the set was brought to a score of 8-5 in favor of UK, Michigan State scored four straight to lead the set 9-8. The Wildcats scored four of five points to lead 12-10 before MSU once again tied the set at 12. After taking four of six points, MSU regained the 16-14 lead. UK then rallied off five of six points to lead 19-17. The Wildcats saw their lead grow to four with the score 24-20. The Spartans showed one last kick to bring the score to 24-23 before Kentucky once again downed MSU in the second set 25-23. Zlabis tallied a team-high five kills to end the second set.
Michigan State closed out the final set trailing 3-1. UK maintained the two point lead until MSU tied the set at six. The Spartans then took two of three points to lead 8-7. The Wildcats took control of the set when they scored four straight points to lead 11-8. However, MSU pulled within one to make the set 13-12. UK saw its lead grow to five (17-12) after scoring four straight points. Kentucky pushed its lead to seven (21-14) after going on a 4-2 run. MSU responded by scoring five straight points, pulling within three (21-19). The Spartans scored one more point before the Wildcats closed out the match with a 25-20 third set win. Junior Megan Schatzle's (Monroe, Mich.) three kills in the set led the team.
Sophomore Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) tallied 32 assists, while junior Allyson Karaba (Muskegon, Mich.) recorded 18 digs. King posted seven blocks including two solo blocks. Abron ended the night with eight kills.