Spartans Show Improvement, but Fall to Duke in Five Sets

Big Ten-ACC Challenge play continued for the No. 14 Spartans Saturday evening against No. 19 Duke.

The Spartans displayed more cohesive offensive play than in Friday’s three-set loss to No. 20 North Carolina, but fell to the Blue Devils 3-2 in five sets: 25-13, 22-25, 25-23, 23-25, 10-15.

“We showed signs of being a really good team tonight, much better than we did last night,” Michigan State head coach Cathy George said. “I felt that I almost saw what we’re looking to do.”

Freshman setter Rachel Minarick had 42 assists for the Spartans in the loss. Sophomore middle blocker-outside hitter Allyssah Fitterer and senior libero Kori Moster also performed well for Michigan State. Moster racked up 24 digs in the match and Fitterer, 14 kills.

Duke had strong outings from Sasha Karelov, who had 22 digs in the contest and Kelsey Williams with 45 assists. Jeme Obeime, who posted a career-high 21 kills in the Blue Devils’ loss to Michigan on Friday night, had had 12 kills in the contest.

Sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig said the Spartans went into Saturday with the full intention of executing plays better than they did Friday, but were unable to maintain the mindset throughout the game.

“We came into practice this morning with a new mindset and we came into the game that way today,” Reinig said. “It just kind of fizzled out.”

The Spartans made a few key unforced errors during the contest that created opportunities for the Blue Devils and ultimately led to their victory.

“We didn’t win and there’s just little things we can improve on to get that much further to beat those teams in the last couple of plays,” Fitter said.

“We need to stay more consistent,” George said. “We made a couple unforced errors at times and that gave them the life they needed.”

Michigan State falls to 4-2 on the season. They will head to the West Coast next weekend to continue non-conference play against No. 22 Oregon and Oregon State on Sept. 12 and 13.

Alex Tekip is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: Michigan State University Women’s Volleyball