Spartans Battle but Fall at No. 7 Illinois

MSU Volleyball (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
MSU Volleyball (PHOTO: MSU SID)

Michigan State put up a good fight at No. 7 Illinois on Saturday, but fell by a 3-0 margin (17-25, 21-25, 21-25).

MSU had its struggles to start the match, but gained confidence as the match wore on and played even with the home team for much of the second and third sets, just unable to put away the potent Illini offense UI hit .327 in the match (50-17-101), while MSU recovered from a difficult start to hit .198 (24-17-86). The teams each had six blocks and Illinois had a slight edge in digs, 31-29.

Illinois *18-3, 7-3 B1G) placed three in double figures; Jacquie Quade had 14 kills, including the final two in the match to lead all scorers. Ali Bastianelli had 11 kills and three blocks, and setter Jordan Poulter had 43 assists, seven digs, and a match-best four blocks.

Alyssa Chronowski had 11 kills and three blocks for the Spartans (15-8, 3-7 Big Ten); Maddie Haggerty had six kills and six digs. Jamye Cox had 11 digs to lead all players.
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The Spartans return home for a pair of home games next weekend against a pair of top-five teams – Minnesota comes to town for a 6 pm match on Friday that will air on the Big Ten Network, and then the Spartans will host Wisconsin for the only meeting of the teams this season on Saturday.

QUOTABLE 
"We showed a lot of improvement after last night – we approached today with a purpose and I thought we did a lot of good things. There's no moral victories – but what we were looking for from our team was to take care of our business and play the way we knew we could. The Big Ten is an incredibly difficult grind, and we are gaining experience every time we take the floor. We're looking to get some rest and attack the week of practice, as the schedule does not get any easier in the second half."

TOP PERFORMERS 
Alyssa Chronowski had 11 kills (.263) and added three blocks, all solo. .
Maddie Haggerty had six kills and six digs
Jamye Cox had a match-best 11 digs. .

STATS AND STORYLINES 
• Chronowski had three solo blocks, pushing her weekend total to seven solo stuffs. She had her career best with four vs. Northwestern on Friday .
• The Spartans utilized both setters – Maggie Midgette had 12 assists and four digs, while Elena Shklyar had 18 assists and three digs.
• Molly Hohnson had six kills and hit .333, adding a block.

GAME REPLAY 

SET ONE: MSU fell behind 9-3 early with a trio of hitting errors, but fought back within a point with a pair of blocks from the duo of Swartz and Gros and a pair of Chronowski kills to make it 10-9. The home team got a pair of kills and a block from Megan Cooney as part of a 4-0 run that pushed the Illini lead back out to five, 14-9. A service ace and a block by Bastianelli helped Illinois to push their lead out to eight at 18-10, and then Illinois scored three of the next four points to make it 21-11, at which point MSU called a time out. The break was a good regroup for the Spartans – they scored four of the next five points to pull within 22-15, but the Illini pulled it out 25-17. Ali Bastianelli had five kills on five swings, while both Jacquie Quade and Megan Cooney had four; the Spartans got four kills from Chronowski. MSU had three early errors but recovered to finish the set 10-5-30 (.167), but Illinois countered with .324

SET TWO: The teams traded points in the early going, with the Illini getting a 3-0 run to take the lead at 12-10 and turning it into a 6-2 stretch to pull ahead 15-12. A block by the setter Poulter gave Illinois its largest lead of the set at 18-14, and then took a 20-15 edge on a Prince kill. MSU got the sideout with a termination by Molly Johnson and then on the Maddie Haggerty service run, the Spartans forced back-to-back errors to pull within two, 20-18. Trailing 22-19, a Chronowski kill and a Swartz tool off the block brought MSU within a point, but back-to-back kills from Cooney and Bastianelli got the Illini to set point; Poulter dumped it on two to close out the set and take a 25-21 win and a 2-0 match lead. The Spartans hit a vastly-improved .231 (11-5-26), but Illinois hit .385 (19-4-39) led by five from Prince and four from Quade. Chronowski had six kills and a block in the frame,

SET THREE: Gaining confidence as the match wore on, the Spartans were playing even with the No. 7 Illini, spreading out its offense. The Spartans took its largest lead of the night at 13-10, with its three kills in the run coming from the arms of three different players. The Illini turned the tables with some help from the Spartans – a pair of MSU errors fueled a 4-1 IU run that allowed the home team to pull ahead 15-14. With the home team still up by a point at 19-18, Quade recorded back-to-back kills to push the lead to three (21-18), and MSU called time out. Illinois got to set point on a kill by Quade that made it 24-20, but Chronowski fended it off with a solo block on Bastianelli before Quade ended the match with a kill at the left pin.

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