Michigan State Volleyball Opens the Season 11-1 with Three Tournament Titles

Abron Leads MSU In 3-0 Sweep Over Sacred Heart For Spartan Invitational Crown

Rathje named tournament MVP.


EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State volleyball team (11-1) won its third tournament of the fall with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-11) victory over Sacred Heart (9-4) on Saturday (Sept. 17) evening inside Jenison Field House. Senior Kyndra Abron led MSU over the Pioneers with her 16 kills on 20 attacks for a .800 hitting percentage. Earning tournament MVP honors for her performance over the course of the weekend was senior Jenilee Rathje.


“Overall, I thought we kept our discipline,” said MSU head coach Cathy George. “We had to have a few reminders, but I think that we kept discipline throughout the weekend. Whenever we got a little off course, we were able to have the maturity to come back and do what we needed to do to come away with victories.”


MSU, looking to close out the weekend on a high note, opened the match by taking the first point. Sacred Heart responded with three of the next four to hold its only lead of the set at 3-2. MSU regained the lead at 6-5 and began to stretch its lead to three at 9-6, forcing the Pioneers to call their first timeout of the set.  The Spartans pushed their lead out to five at 15-10, before it eventually became six with SHU calling its final timeout of the set, 18-12. The Green and White continued to roll in the opening set, extending the lead to 10 as the set ended at 25-15. Abron led the Green and White with seven kills on eight attacks for a .875 hitting mark.


The Green and White came out strong to open set two with a 3-0 lead. The MSU advantage later became four at 6-2. SHU, however, rallied back to within two at 9-7, but the Spartans regained the four-point advantage at 11-7. MSU fell into a rut and allowed the Pioneers to pull within one at 12-11. Michigan State stepped back into the driver’s seat and proceeded to take its lead to four with the score 21-17. Sacred Heart dug deep and slowed the Green and White down, pulling within one at 22-21. After two-straight points in favor of the Spartans, SHU called its first timeout at 23-21. MSU wound up taking set two by a score of 25-23. Abron and Rathje each had four kills on set two.


Michigan State came out firing on all cylinders during the final set, posting an early 4-2 lead. The offensive dominance continued when MSU’s lead at 13-5, as the Pioneers called their first timeout of the set. The Green and White pushed its lead to 11 with SHU once again calling a timeout at 19-8. The match ended when set three reached 25-11 for the largest lead of the weekend for MSU (14 points). Abron once again paced the Green and White with five kills.


Joining Rathje on the all-tournament team was Abron and freshman Kori Moster. On the weekend, Rathje led the Spartans with 43 kills, while tallying 1.70 digs per set and .70 blocks a set. For Abron, she hit .368 with 41 kills and 1.00 blocks a set. Moster led the Spartans on the weekend with 3.30 digs per set in her first home weekend as the starting libero. Moster also paced the Spartans behind the service line with .40 aces a set.


“I feel like there were several individuals that contributed to the success of both Jenilee and Kyndra this weekend,” said George. “I think we had some outstanding play by our back-row players, and our setters were able to really deliver a hittable ball and they came through with some timely kills.”


Against Sacred Heart, Moster tallied her sixth-straight set match with double-digit dig numbers, as she tallied a team-best 10. At the net, Abron led the squad with five blocks, while Rathje chipped in an additional four. Sophomore Kristen Kelsay dished out a team-best 20 assists and was joined by senior Natalie Emro in double-digit numbers, as she recorded 14 assists. The Spartan offense was well distributed across the team, as eight members tallied at least one kill against the Pioneers. For the set, the Green and White out hit SHU, .437 to .121.


The Green and White hits the road again next weekend when conference play opens against Purdue on Friday, Sept. 23 and Indiana on Saturday, Sept. 24. Action versus the Boilermakers will be aired live on the Big Ten Network at 8 p.m. Saturday’s contest against IU is slated for a 7 p.m. start.

All-Tournament Team

MVP- Jenilee Rathje, Michigan State

Kyndra Abron, Michigan State

Kori Moster, Michigan State

Britney McGinnis, Ball State

Kara Bates, Ball State

Kristin Boyd, VCU

Johanna Ovsenek, Sacred Heart