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MSU Advances to Elite Eight With Win Over Illinois

Dec. 8, 2017

Box Score | PDF Box: MSU 3, Illinois 1 | Quotes
Photo Gallery | WATCH: NCAA Tournament Highlights vs. Illinois

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No. 12 Michigan State advanced to the NCAA Regional final with a 3-1 victory (25-23, 18-25, 25-17, 29-27) over Big Ten foe Illinois on Friday in State College. The Spartans advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1996 and improve to 24-8 on the year. Illinois finishes the 2017 campaign with a 23-11 mark.

The teams went into the set break tied at 1-1, as MSU took a tight first set before Illinois asserted itself for a 25-18 win in set two. After the intermission, MSU got a 25-17 win in set three before a point-for-point battle in the fourth went for extra points. MSU survived that frame by a 29-27 score, getting a thundering kill and match-point ace from Autumn Bailey to seal the win after a 27-27 deadlock.

MSU's hitting percentage improved in every set, capping out at .282 in the deciding fourth set. The Spartans hit .255 on the night and held Illinois to .248. The Illini hit .419 in their commanding second-set victory, but hit .161 and .184 in the final two frames. The Illini out-blocked MSU by a 12-8 margin, but the Spartans had nine aces on the night as a team.

Brooke Kranda had 16 kills, and two aces to pace the MSU attack, while Bailey had 13 kills, five aces (tying her season best) and just missed a double-double with nine digs. Holly Toliver had 14 kills, eight digs, and two blocks. Setter Rachel Minarick had 54 assists and 11 digs along with three blocks, and Megan Tompkins hit .500 with nine kills and a team-best four blocks.

For the Illini, Jacqueline Quade h 16 kills and nine digs, hitting .353; Tyanna Omazic had six blocks (three solo) and Megan Cooney had 15 kills and four stuffs.

MSU advances into the round of eight and will play No. 1 overall seed Penn State at 8 pm on Saturday. The winner will advance to the Final Four in Kansas City next weekend.

"It was the battle I think we were expecting from Illinois. We knew that the match we played in the regular season wasnt indicitave of what they could accomplish. I was so very proud of our players for responding and never backing down. Advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament has been something that this group has had their eye on since last December - so its incredibly rewarding to see them continuing on with a chance at a Final Four."

- Head Coach Cathy George


  • Brooke Kranda had a match-high 16 kills and added two aces.
  • Holly Toliver had 14 kills, an ace, eight digs, and a pair of blocks.
  • Rachel Minarick had her eighth double-double of the season, posting 54 assists and 11 digs.


  • Brooke Kranda's 16 kills is her new NCAA Tournament career high.
  • Megan Tompkins had nine kills, a new NCCA Tournament career high, and hit .500. She had seven kills as a freshman vs. Arkansas State in 2014. She also led all Spartans with four blocks (one solo).
  • Minarick had her fifth match of the season with 50+ assists. She posted a career-best 58 vs. Michigan on Oct. 18. Her 54 assists is her career best in an NCAA Tournament match in her career.
  • Minarick's 54 assists leaves her 16 shy of becoming MSU's all-time assist leader. Nikki Colson had 4,563 (2000-03), and Minarick is on her tail with 4,547.
  • Autumn Bailey's 13 kills pushed her over 1,800 in her career (1,812).
  • The Spartans faced a Big Ten team in each of its last three trips to the Sweet 16. MSU fell to Michigan in 2012 and Penn State in 2013 before earning today's victory.



  • SET ONE: The Illini jumped out to a 7-3 lead, connecting on each of their first four attempts and put up three blocks in building that four-point advantage. On an Autumn Bailey service run, the Spartans got back into it with a Tompkins kill and a line shot by Brooke Kranda to get within two, 8-6., and then tied it up at 9-9 after back-to-back kills from Kranda and Bailey. Three straight points from the Illini - two on kills from Jacquie Quade - gave them back a lead, but MSU stormed back to go up 15-14 as Toliver recorded three consecutive kills for the Spartans. MSU found its rhythm and built to its largest lead of the day at 18-15, forcing the Illini into their second and final time out of the frame. Autumn Bailey served up an ace out of the break to get the lead up to four. The Spartans had a four-point edge again at 22-18 after an Illinois service ace, as the MSU service game was causing some issues for the Illini back row. MSU got to set point on a cross-court dagger from Toliver - her fifth of the night that made it 24-21. The Illini twice staved off set point to pull within one at 24-23, but after a challenge on the previous call - a non-touch call for the Illini - was upheld, Bailey put down a thundering kill at the left pin to take the first set, 25-24. MSU finished with 16 kills, led by five from Toliver and four each from Bailey and Kranda. Four players had three kills each for Illinois, includin Tyanna Omaxic, who added two blocks.  
  • SET TWO: The Illini stormed out of the gates in the second set, building to a 7-2 lead. The teams traded 3-1 runs - MSU's came first, bringing the Spartans within 11-8, and Illinois countered to take a 14-8 edge and forcing the Spartans into their second time out. Illinois kept its foot on the gas and pulled ahead by eight (17-9), but the Spartans came back to trim it to six on a Toliver ace; MSU then continued its 4-1 run on a Tompkins kill followed by the senior middle teaming up with Minarick for the block to make it 19-14. Illinois called time out to try to halt the MSU momentum, but a Bailey ace (her third) and a kill by Tompkins brought the Spartans to within three at 19-16. A 3-0 run by Illinois took back the momentum, but the Spartans never stopped coming at their opponents. The Illini took the set 25-18, paced by four kills from Megan Cooney and two kills and two solo stuffs by Omazic. Kranda had five kills for the Spartans in the frame, and Tompkins had four. MSU hit .250 in the frame, a bit better than the .222 from the first set, while the Illini hit .419 (15-2-31).  
  • SET THREE: The teams traded points early in the match, but Illinois took a 6-4 lead after kills by Prince and Quade. Three straight kills from Kranda, followed by a solo block from Garvelink, gave MSU a two-point lead at 9-7. The Spartans used a 5-2 run to pull ahead 15-11 to get to a media time out on the floor, and just kept pressuring the Illini as MSU pushed its lead to 18-13, helped by a pair of Tompkins kills and a fourth ace from Bailey. The Illini pushed back with a block and a kill by Cooney, but MSU took those points right back on a kill by Garvelink and an ace from Minarick - MSUs sixth ace of the match - that made it 20-15, and Illinois called a time out. A block by Bastianelli made it a three-point game as an MSU error allowed the Illini back within three at 20-17. A quick set to Garvelink right out of the break stopped the Illini run, and started a 5-0 run for MSU that closed out the set. Kranda served up an ace and Toliver got MSU to set point with a big kill, and a hitting error for the Illini closed it out. MSU sided out at 76%, and hit .263 in the set, as both Kranda and Toliver posted four kills. Quade marched that total for the Illini.  
  • SET FOUR: Neither team could take a multiple-point lead in the fourth set until kills by Cooney and Quade gave the Illini a 11-9 edge. MSU came right back with a block by Minarick and Garvelink and a Kranda kill off the block to tie it back up at 11's, and then another Garvelink block (along with Toliver) made it a 3-0 run. With MSU holding a 13-12 edge, the Illini took advantage of an MSU service error, then got an ace and a kill to go up 15-13, and MSU called its first time out. Garvelink and Bailey tied the game at 15's, and then Toliver recorded her 12th kill to give MSU back the lead. The set was still a point-for-point battle - neither team could find separation of more than two points. After an MSU time out after an ace gave Illinois a 18-17 edge, a tip by Minarick tied it back up. The teams were trading two-point bursts that pushed the lead back and forth over the net, After a time out with MSU trailing 22-21, the Spartans attacked immediately and got a kill from Garvelink and what appeared to be the go-ahead point on a shot long by Quade; the Illini challenged that there was a net violation, and the Spartan point held up. After the Illini tied it up on a Cooney kill, the ensuing rally - saved with a one-armed dig by Bailey - Cooney went for another kill at the right pin, but Toliver and Garvelink were there to meet her for a 24-23 lead and match point. A service error tied things at 24, and big swings on both sides of the net kept the game tied. At 26-26, a hiting error by Prince gave the Spartans a one-point edge, and a line shot by Bailey was called out of bounds. The Spartans challenged the play, thinking that the Illini had touched it on the block. The call on the floor was upheld, making it 27-27. On the ensuing rally, Bailey put one down in the middle of the floor that left no doubt, and with the sideout she stepped back to the line to serve. The senior delivered her fifth ace of the night to give MSU the match victory. Toliver and Garvelink each had four kills in the frame, but it was the third of Bailey's terminations and her service ace that sealed the win for MSU.


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