EAST LANSING, Mich.–Jenison Fieldhouse flooded with Spartan fans Saturday to celebrate the Spartans’ Senior Night. No. 8 Michigan State played host to Indiana in a bittersweet match. MSU has seven crucial seniors that celebrated their last home games: Autumn Bailey, Abby Monson, Brooke Kranda, Rachel Minarick, Megan Tompkins, Alyssa Garvelink and Holly Toliver. After three electric sets, the Spartans won their last home match of the season: 25-15, 25-12, 25-18.
“It’s a very special night,” MSU coach Cathy George said. “There’s a lot of memories that go into the last four or five years of these players lives and how much they’ve enriched me. It just kind of all comes down to one night, where you’re actually able to celebrate that. They’ve been incredible for this program.”
Knowing it was going to be an emotional night, the Spartans still showed up with intensity and energy. The first set began with effortless kills from Garvelink and Kranda. However, the Hoosiers refused to give up. They picked up speed in their swings and their movement defensively. But it was not enough to stop the Spartans. Hitters Bailey and Toliver put more power behind their swings, making Michigan State’s offense too quick to keep up with.
“It’s been a journey with the other six seniors and it’s sad to see that slowly coming to an end, but happy to have had the chance to play with them,” Bailey said. “We just talked about playing for each other today and just honoring each other’s careers.”
On the other hand, the Hoosiers’ offense struggled immensely, only hitting .143. A single big block from middle-hitter Garvelink ended the set and MSU won, 25-15.
The second set started off slow for both teams, possessions going back and forth. After momentous hustle from defensive specialist Monson the Spartans were able to widen the gap to 10-5. The Hoosiers couldn’t keep up, struggling with too many hitting errors. Michigan State succeeded in quick sets and communication.
The Spartans were unstoppable, hitting .560 this set. This composition allowed the Spartans to take the set, 25-12. Bailey led MSU’s offense with five kills while the defense put up three rally-ending blocks.
Coming from a break, both teams were recharged and ready for a battle. The third set brought out a scrappy Hoosier attack, along with a determined Spartan response. Michigan State’s seniors would not leave without a win. Kranda and Bailey seized their time in the Jenison Fieldhouse, as they led the offensive boards with kills.
The score was tied 14-14 due to the wildly aggressive Hoosiers. The Spartans tightened up their side of the net and played with more intensity. Although the score was closer than any set before in the match, Michigan State was able to execute effectively and finish the set 25-18.
No. 8 Michigan State will travel to No. 15 Purdue on Friday at 7 p.m. Then they will battle the Hoosiers again Saturday at 7 p.m. in Bloomington in their last match before tournament play.
“It’s really an emotional thing, but we’re hoping we have a lot of season left; hopefully five weeks,” Minarick said. “Hopefully we’ll be home two more times, if we get to host. But it was a great run, and we’re really happy to get a win on Senior Night.”