Michigan State snapped a seven-match skid with a convincing 3-1 victory over visiting Ohio State, (25-18, 24-26, 25-19, 25-10).
The Spartans had played five consecutive teams that were in the AVCA top-25, and despite consistent improvement, hadn't been rewarded with a victory. The resilience shown by the squad was rewarded on Wednesday in spades, as it set a new season high in blocks (18), while players established or tied several career bests.
Maddie Haggerty led the way for the Spartans (16-12, 4-11 B1G), hitting a career-best .567 with 18 kills on 30 swings with just one hitting error. She added 11 digs for a double-double, as well as four blocks (one solo) to tie her career best in that category. Both Alyssa Chronowski and Rebecka Poljan had eight kills, with Poljan also posting seven blocks and an ace; Naya Gros had nine blocks to go with four kills.
For the Buckeyes, Vanja Bukilic had 17 kills, and also put up four service aces. Lauren Witte had eight kills, and Bia Franklin had two blocks and seven kills.
Ohio State (12-15, 3-12 B1G) hit just .090 on the night, thanks in large part to MSU's 18 blocks on the night. The Spartans hit .336 (its second-highest hitting percentage in a Big Ten match), including a scorching .520 (14-1-25) in the final frame.
Michigan State welcomes Iowa to Jenison Field House on Saturday. In addition to celebrating Military Appreciation Night, the Spartans will unveil Rachel Minarick's All-America banner in the Jenison rafters.
"I thought that you could see our confidence build throughout the match. We've really been playing well, but not having the wins to show for it. We asked our players to stay the course and focus on getting better. Tonight, I think the team really showed how far we've come. We handled adversity, we handled prosperity, we battled and stayed poised and in control. I'm incredibly proud and happy to see the team rewarded for their hard work. We now have to quickly turn our attention to Iowa and try to keep this momentum growing."
- Head Coach Cathy George
• Maddie Haggerty led all scorers with career bests in kills (18) and hitting percentage (.567), recording 11 digs and four blocks. .
• Rebecka Poljan had eight kills, seven blocks and a pair of service aces, hitting .316.
• Elena Shklyar tied her career high with five aces, while adding 24 assists and adding four blocks.
• Naya Gros finished one shy of her career best with nine blocks, adding four kills. .
STATS AND STORYLINES
• With a season-best 18 blocks, MSU had double-digit blocks for the second straight match and for the 13th time this season and sixth time in Big Ten play. The Spartans had 14 blocks on Saturday vs. Minnesota.
• The Spartans posted 10 service aces, the sixth time this season MSU had 10 aces or more. It was the first time this season it happened in a B1G game.
• Maddie Haggerty leads MSU with five double-doubles on the season, and has recorded three straight.
• MSU snapped a seven-game skid with the victory, and evened the season series with Ohio State 1-1.
• Lauren Swartz had career bests in blocks (5) and digs (5), adding seven kills.
• Molly Johnson had six kills and hit .385, and added four blocks.
• SET ONE: The Spartans started off hot with a double block by Poljan and Johnson, followed by a pair of aces from Elena Shklyar – at which point the Buckeyes called their first time out. MSU continued to roll out of the break and led 7-2, as the freshman duo of Poljan and Johnson picked up a second block. MSU had their effort turned up and rolled through the opening set, leading 20-12 on nine kills, a .400 hitting percentage, four blocks and four aces. The Buckeyes trimmed the lead down to six at 20-14, getting a service ace and a Spartan error – so MSU called a time out to regroup. Naya Gros put up her second block of the set out of the break. With a 23-16 deficit, the Buckeyes battled to whittle down the MSU lead and got back-to-back points to come within five, but Lauren Swartz put one down from the right pin for set point; Poljan and Haggerty came up with MSU's sixth block of the set to seal the first set, 25-18. Haggerty led all hitters with three kills, while the Spartans had three players with three blocks each (Poljan, Gros, and Johnson).
• SET TWO: MSU started the second set as fast as it did the first – a kill by Haggerty and a block by the senior and Poljan gave MSU a quick 2-0 lead. A block by Chronowski and Poljan gave the freshman her fifth stuff of the night, and Chronowski followed with a solo stuff on the ensuing rally to push MSU's total to nine in the match. Trailing 9-4, the Buckeyes put together a 4-0 run – fueled by two kills and two blocks by Bia Franklin – to tie the score at 9-9 and force MSU into a time out. Out of the break, Swartz picked up MSUs 10th block of the night, and a kill by Haggerty and an error by Franklin gave the Spartans back a two-point lead at 13-11. The teams got into a point-for-point battle, with Ohio State taking one-point leads and MSU countering. A big block by Gros and Swartz tied the game at 18-all, but a pair of kills by Witte sandwiched around one from Franklin allowed the Buckeyes to take their largest lead of the night, 21-18. After a Spartan time out, MSU came back with three straight points – two on kills from Haggerty, one on a Cox ace – to tie the score at 21-21, and OSU called a time out of its own. Poljan extended MSU's run to four points, but the Buckeyes stopped MSU's scoring run to tie it at 22's. A tip by Moeller and an MSU error got the Buckeyes to set point at 24-22, but a Poljan kill and a Shklyar ace tied things back at 24's. The Buckeyes got the last two points of the set to tie the match at 1-1 with a 26-24 set victory. Haggerty had six kills in the frame and both Gros and Poljan had two blocks, and Poljan added three kills. For the Buckeyes, Banja Bukilic had eight of her team's 17 kills, while Franklin added fie with a pair of blocks.
• SET THREE: It was Ohio State with the hot hand in the early part of the third set, rolling out to a 4-1 lead and maintaining a four-point edge through 12-8. MSU got a kill by Chronowski and an ace from Poljan to bring MSU within two at 12-10, and then tied the match at 16-16 on a block by Chronowski and Johnson. MSU kept its foot on the gas and pulled ahead by three (20-17) on kills by Poljan and Chronowski. With a 21-19 advantage, MSU closed out the set on a 4-0 run, with two kills from Chronowski and one from Gros to take a 2-1 match lead. Chrononwski put down seven kills on 13 swings without an error, while Haggerty added three. MSU out-blocked the Buckeyes by a 3-0 margin to hold a commanding 14-4 edge in that category across the match. Witte and Bukilic led OSU with three kills each, as the Buckeyes were held to a .103 hitting percentage, (10-7-29). MSU put down 15 kills and hit .414, siding out at an impressive 78%.
• SET FOUR: MSU took a 7-4 lead in the fourth set, and as the Spartans continued to keep their foot on the gas, Ohio State called time out trailing 10-5 and 14-5. The breathers perhaps benefitted the home team more than the visitors – the Spartans got to 20 with a 12-point edge, and continued to spread out its offense. MSU was finding gold with whatever it touched, as it hit .520 in the final set (14-1-25) with 12 digs and four blocks. Overall, it was an 11-0 run for the Spartans that separated them from Ohio State, and captured the fourth set by a commanding 25-10 win. Haggerty had six kills on seven swings, added three digs and a pair of blocks, Johnson had fou kills without an error, and Gros finished off her night with three blocks in the final frame.
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