EAST LANSING, Mich. — It was business as usual for No. 11 Michigan State on Wednesday night, as they took down the visiting Rutgers Scarlet Knights in three sets (25-15, 25-13, 25-16) on Breast Cancer Awareness night in Jenison Fieldhouse.
Set one began with the two teams trading blows, as they swapped points until it was tied at 11 points apiece. Rutgers won a challenge to cut the deficit to 16-13 MSU, but the Spartan momentum was too much for the Scarlet Knights to handle. MSU scored seven of the final eight points to win the set. Chloe Reining recorded 4 kills and Autumn Bailey earned six digs.
The second set was more of the same: Spartan dominance. Whether it was serving, digging, killing, setting, spiking or blocking, Michigan State had the edge. After a timeout called by Rutgers while trailing by nine, MSU coasted to the victory in the set behind Kristen Brashear’s five digs and Bailey’s four kills.
Junior Alyssa Garvelink’s four kills in the third set, partnered alongside Holly Toliver’s six, propelled the Spartans to a match victory. The win improves Michigan State to a record of 17-4 overall and 6-3 in conference play.
Head coach Cathy George was pleased with her team’s performance. “I thought we hit well,” George said. “We were pretty efficient in what we were doing. We let the game come to us a little bit.”
But she did see some improvement needed within her squad. “You can always improve,” she went on to say. “We can be a little cleaner in some areas,” as she cited blocking and play on the edges as a whole as a point of emphasis she plans to address in practice.
Michigan State takes on conference rival Ohio State next. The game will be this Saturday afternoon from Columbus, OH at 6 p.m. ET with radio streaming on Spartan Sports Network. Junior Autumn Bailey knows her team understands the importance of this game.
“It’s going to be a battle, there’s no doubt about it,” said Bailey. “We need to take the next couple days to get ready. It’s important for the team to understand they’re in for a duel. And we’ve lost a few on the road (this season), so I think we’re ready to turn that around.”
Holly Toliver, who finished with 10 kills, cited preparation as the main reason for the dominance on the court. “We had a good practice yesterday and this week,” she said. “I haven’t played front row in a while, so that was exciting for me.”
She also knows what it feels like to lose a game in Columbus, and doesn’t want her teammates to experience that this weekend. “My freshman year we went in there and lost in five. It’s going to be a more of a ‘we have to win on the road’ mindset (on Saturday).”
Chloe Reining finished the game tied for a team-high in kills with the aforementioned Toliver. “I just tried to really go all out,” she said. “I just started banging cross court like I used to do.” She echoed her teammate’s sentiments regarding the showdown against the Buckeyes this weekend as well.
“OSU is a tough challenge, they’re a fiery team and I think we’ll fire right back at them.”