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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Michigan State volleyball comes up short in 3-2 thriller against Northwestern

MSU+sophomore+middle+blocker+Evie+Doezema+%2812%29+prepares+for+a+Nebraska+serve+on+Friday%2C+October+6%2C+2023+at+the+Breslin+Center.
Jack Moreland
MSU sophomore middle blocker Evie Doezema (12) prepares for a Nebraska serve on Friday, October 6, 2023 at the Breslin Center.

EAST LANSING – Following a loss at the hands of No. 2 Nebraska on Friday, Oct. 6, Michigan State had to gear up for another conference matchup against Northwestern. While the match remained competitive throughout, the Spartans could not pull it out as Northwestern earned a 3-2 win. 

While Michigan State made plays throughout the first set, they traded points with Northwestern through most of the contest. The set remained tightly contested up until it was knotted up at 16 a piece, as both squads played relatively mistake free. The Spartans needed a spark and finally got one with junior outside hitter Grace Kelly, who put the team on her back with four phenomenal kills down the stretch and six total for the first set. MSU was able to stay in front, hold off the Northwestern attack, and finish it off at 25-22. Kelly finished the match with 20 kills overall.

“Yesterday Taylah Holdem had a good match, tonight Grace Kelly had a good match,” said Michigan State head coach Leah Johnson. “I was really proud of Grace because she struggled last night, she just has a horrendous cold, she can barely talk, and she still puts points on the board.”

Despite dropping the first set, Northwestern did not falter in the second. Michigan State appeared to remain steady early on, but the Wildcats became the aggressors as the set pushed on. This was best exemplified by a deadly accurate service ace by senior setter Alexa Rousseau towards the end. Northwestern continued their offensive onslaught and took the second set 25-16.

Entering the third set, Northwestern looked to keep their foot on the gas. While Michigan State did not make it easy on the Wildcats, they never lost control and seemed to always be ahead by a few points. The Northwestern attack, fronted by fifth year outside hitter Julia Sangiacomo and sophomore outside hitter Averie Hernandez, continued to get theirs throughout. They finished the match with 32 and 17 kills respectively, handling business in a 25-20 set win. 

“They’re just sending [Sangiacomo] so much volume,” said Johnson. “They’re not trying to be balanced, they’re just giving her the ball and letting her do her job, and she hits with heat and she hits with rage.”

The Spartans were down going into the fourth set, but certainly not out. This was demonstrated early as MSU jumped out to a 8-3 lead in the early stages. The highlight of this sequence was a strong blocking effort by fifth year middle blocker Amani McArthur with Kelly in on the action as well. Northwestern came roaring back out of a timeout and made an impressive 5-0 run to tie the set and they eventually grabbed a controlling lead. Michigan State eventually locked back in with a sense of urgency, forcing a tie at 24 and a win by two situation. With the momentum swung back in the direction of the Spartans, junior setter Rachel Muisenga made the set winning service ace in a do or die situation, clinching it at 26-24.

Despite the energy and crowd being behind the Spartans entering the fifth set, Northwestern refused to flinch. The Wildcats began with a quick start and a 5-1 lead. Michigan State battled back to tie it at six, but Northwestern took control going forward and sealed the set win at 15-10 and the match at 3-2. 

“The fight is there, the grind is there, the will is there,” said Johnson. “I’m not discouraged and you’ll never find me discouraged, but to me this is just potential, you know, waiting to burst.” 

Northwestern’s record improves to 8-8 on the year, while Michigan State drops to 11-6. 

The Spartans have a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska and a rematch with the Cornhuskers on Friday, Oct. 13 with gametime set at 7:00 p.m. E.T. 

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About the Contributor
Jack Moreland
Jack Moreland, Sports Photo Editor
Jack (he/him) is a Journalism major focusing in sports reporting and media photography. Growing up in nearby Okemos, Michigan, he has been a lifelong Spartan and is proud to sport the green and white. Jack is a big Baby Keem fan and is known to post on your block with your wishlist on you.

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