EAST LANSING, Mich. – Jenison Fieldhouse was chock-full of Michigan State graduates on Alumni night Saturday. They came to support the Spartans as they faced Ohio State. After a big win Friday night against Maryland, No. 16 Michigan State was ready to take on the Buckeyes. The Spartans kept their winning record alive after three intense sets, (25-13, 25-18, 25-18).
Coach Cathy George reflected on the game, saying, “I thought we stayed the course throughout the game. We made sure we had balance on our offense. I thought our team did a nice job of regaining that balance when they got pushed a little bit coming back and remembering to play good solid volleyball.”
The first set opened up with power on both sides of the net. The lead wavered between the teams, but the Spartans managed to make a gap. After a right-side kill and an ace from Autumn Bailey, Michigan State was up, 9-4.
“I think we stuck together as a team and we’ve been doing that a lot better recently,” Bailey said. “Just kept our foot on the gas the whole time.”
The Buckeyes fought back, going on a short run. The streak was stopped by a hard hit from Alyssa Garvelink, the Spartans’ middle hitter. The Spartans picked up the aggression in their swings, resulting in kill after kill. Megan Tompkins and Holly Toliver put down three kills each in the first set for Michigan State. The Buckeyes made service errors and could not manage to defend the Spartans’ offense, thus losing the first set, 25-13.
The beginning of the second set brought yet another kill from a Spartan, Brooke Kranda. Michigan State kept a solid lead throughout the entire set. The Buckeyes struggled to find momentum because of their service errors and mishits. This gave the Spartans numerous opportunities to strike.
Toliver put down six more kills this set for Michigan State. Another big hitter that came to the surface this set was Alyssa Garvelink, a middle hitter for the home team. She used her length and power to stop every point the Buckeyes thought they would achieve. The Spartan offense was too vicious to overcome, leaving Ohio State on the bottom again at 25-18.
The third set started out much differently than the first two. The Buckeyes were on their toes and fired up. They collected the first two points of the set with ease. But the Spartans fought back with their attacks. Because of Kranda’s four hits in a row, the Spartans were able to maintain a lead at 12-8.
“I thought we did a really good job coming out with the attack,” Kranda said. “We definitely talked about staying aggressive on everything, swinging high hands when we don’t have a good clean hit. Just driving through balls and going where we can.”
The Buckeyes fought for every ball and turned up the heat on their side of the net, closing the gap slowly. Michigan State used its power to push points. Bailey used her volleyball IQ to snag a few points by tipping and placing the ball in dead areas of the court. This kind of premeditated play gave the Spartans the edge to win the final set at 25-18.
Headed into more conference play next week, the undefeated Michigan State volleyball team will go to No. 6 Nebraska on Wednesday. After a successful and active weekend, the Spartans will focus on rest and game planning.
“First and foremost, we are thinking about a little rest,” George said. “Nebraska’s playing extremely well, they’ve got a lot of top players. They’re very good and they’re playing real solid. They’re not gonna give you points. So we have to make sure we are ready to earn points. It’ll be a fun match to go into.”