EAST LANSING, Mich.– The No. 14 Michigan State volleyball team took on No. 3 Minnesota’s team Saturday night, in an eventful competition for a five-set win, 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13.
The Spartans had a rough start to the first set. The Minnesota hitters came to play. It was 5-1, Gophers in the lead, when middle-hitter Alyssa Garvelink tipped the ball to get a sideout. Although a possession change is a normal momentum creator, the Spartans could not make a run. After blows from Minnesota’s offense and a score of 8-3, Michigan State called a timeout in hopes to start fixing their mistakes.
The Gophers refused to let the Spartans get the ball with their strategic hitting placements, the score was 12-5. The Spartans were really trying to step it up, but Minnesota’s defense and hustle kept the ball in play. A big swing from Spartan outside-hitter Chloe Reinig, finally got the ball back for the green and white. Reinig killed it again, but the Spartans still trailed 14-7.
Hitting errors and some minor passing mistakes made it tough for Michigan State to get a run. Brooke Kranda played smart and used the big Gopher block and tooled the ball out of bounds twice. A push too deep by a fellow Spartan left the score 25-12, a Minnesota win.
“Keep composure and have a lot of patience. You got to bounce back right away,” said middle hitter Alyssa Garvelink. The first set had to be forgotten, and Michigan State was not going to give up.
With the back and forth leads, the Spartans had to keep the intensity and energy going. The first set was rough for the Spartans. “Put that one aside and move on, it’s only up from here,” Spartan Autumn Bailey said.
Michigan State came out with some intensity the second set. Hitters Garvelink, Kranda and Reinig got the first couple of points with kills alone. The score was 8-5, and an intimidating single block by Allyssah Fitterer widened the gap between the Spartans and Gophers. Minnesota called a timeout to regroup.
Brooke aced a Minnesota player with a very aggressive serve leaving the score at 10-5, and the Spartan fans went crazy. A huge part in keeping the energy was the home crowd. “Home crowd was exceptional. We really appreciate everything,” coach Cathy George said. Michigan State started showing aggression and picked up the intensity in the second set, with second touch attacks from setter Rachel Minarick. The score soon became 21-17 because of incredible hustle from both teams. Garvelink and Autumn Bailey shut down a Minnesota hitter with a big block. The Spartans took the second set, 25-20.
The third set started with some great hustle from both teams’ defenses, but Minnesota took the lead 4-1. A kill from Kranda made it 7-5 with the Spartans still trailing. Quick hits from Minnesota widened the gap, but the challenge was accepted by Michigan State, and Bailey killed it for a Spartan possession.
A wicked topspin serve by Kranda and a hitting error by Minnesota made it a closer set, 9-8, with the Spartans still behind. A big block by Reinig tied it up 13-13. An ace by Kristen Brashear and a Spartan block put them in the lead 16-15. Spartan Holly Toliver got two aces with her incredible topspin serve, evening the score again at 20-20. Reinig spiked it and the Spartans were up 24-21. After another Michigan State kill, the green and white took the third set, 25-21.
The Spartans led the fourth set with a kill, as well as the Gophers, 1-1. Spartan libero Abby Morson showed great hustle, not letting the ball drop. A kill by Bailey put the Spartans in the lead 4-3. Toliver’s line hit put the Spartans in the lead again 5-4. The Spartans soon realized that the big block from Minnesota could be fought with a big swing to tool it out of bounds. A Spartan block put the score at 9-8, Spartans trailing. The Spartan ladies took the lead with great netplay from Garvelink. Michigan State called a timeout after a couple defensive mistakes. The Gophers widened the gap with some tough blocks and aggressive hits, taking a 23-16 lead. Michigan State called a timeout to gather themselves, but it did no good. Minnesota won the fourth set, 25-18.
The fifth set of the intense madness began with a cross-court kill from Reinig. A middle hit from the green and white put the score at 3-1. The set stayed intense, with back-to-back hits and errors from both teams. Spartan hitters Kranda and Bailey tooled it off of Minnesota blocks, taking the lead at 6-5. The Spartans kept the lead with backrow hustle, 8-6. Garvelink tallied two blocks in a row, managing to shut the Gophers’ offense down for another point. An ace by Spartan Megan Tompkins put the Spartans in a great position to win, with the score at 11-6. Minnesota kept pushing and they soon clawed back to within two points behind the green and white, 11-9. Reinig killed it on outside later, making the score 13-12, Spartans led. An incredible kill by Bailey gave the Spartans a win, 15-13.
Overall, the Spartans prevailed through adversity with the long five-set match. Although they made mistakes, the Spartans were able to persevere.
Coach Cathy George talked about the team’s win overall. “Everybody did their part.” She said it was a “team victory.”
According to George, moving forward Michigan State’s volleyball team will “get a day of rest. Regroup and get ready.”