Spartans Fight, Fall at OSU

Michigan State Volleyball (MSU SID)
Michigan State Volleyball (MSU SID)

Michigan State dropped a tough 3-0 decision on the road at Ohio State on Sunday afternoon (23-25, 19-25, 26-28 ). MSU splits its third straight Big Ten weekend and falls to 15-6 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play.

MSU hit .287 in the match but struggled to terminate, as the Buckeyes had 53 digs on the day and hit .282, but Ohio State had 52 kills to MSU's 41 and served up six aces. MSU was hindered by seven service errors on the day compared to just three aces.
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MSU did out-block their hosts 9.5-3.0. MSU has had now had eight or more blocks 19-of 21 matches this season, but its stretch of four straight double-digit blocking efforts came to a halt.

Alyssa Chronowski had eight third-set kills to compile a team-best 12 in the match, adding four digs and two blocks. Naya Groshad nine kills and four blocks, while setter Elena Shklyar led the team with five blocks and 29 assists, adding four digs.

Bia Franklin led three double-digit kill efforts for the Buckeyes with a double-double (14 kills, 12 digs) while Madison Smeathers (13) and Vanja Bukilic (10) rounded out the trio.

The Spartans continue a four-match road swing next weekend when it travels to play at Northwestern and Illinois.

 QUOTABLE
"We fought, but couldn't get any runs together. That's a very scrappy, opportunistic Ohio State team that came up with the big sideout when they needed to. We know the things we need to continue to work on as we gain experience week-to-week."

 - Head Coach Cathy George

TOP PERFORMERS 
Naya Gros compiled nine kills and had four blocks.
Rebecka Poljan had four blocks (one solo) and had seven kills.
Elena Shklyar led the team with five blocks while adding 29 assists – 14 of which came in the third set.
Alyssa Chronowski had a team-best 12 kills and hit .333

STATS AND STORYLINES 
Maddie Haggerty had seven kills and eight digs, the second highest total on the team.
• MSU's stretch of double-digit blocking efforts came to a halt with 9.5 blocks on the day.

GAME REPLAY 

SET ONE: A 4-0 run by the Spartans turned into an 8-5 lead with a 4-0 run with three kills and a block by Gros. OSU battled back to tie it at 10-10, then went up 13-11 on a solo block by Bia Franklin and a kill by Madison Smeathers. The Buckeyes got some help from an MSU service error to win the race to 15 to trigger the media time out, and Gros came out of the break with a big kill followed by an OSU miscue to tie it up at 15-15. With the match tied at 17's, a pair of MSU errors and a pair of kills by Vanja Bukilic helped the home team pull ahead by three, 21-18. The four service errors for MSU were looming large, as they were hitting .better than .340 compared to .258 for the Buckeyes. OSU got to set point with a kill by Franklin, but MSU fended it off with back-to-back kills by Gros and Poljan to pull within one, 24-23. The Buckeyes went back to Franklin out of the break, and she got the winner from the left pin. Gros had six kills and three blocks in the frame, matching Franklin for the first-set lead. Poljan had four kills, while Swartz added a pair of blocks and a kill.

SET TWO: The home team raced out to a five-point edge at 8-3, helped by three kills from Smeathers. At 10-5, the Buckeyes started to separate, going up by six (13-7), then seven (16-9), which forced the Spartans to call their second time out. MSU was hitting just .095 in the set to that point with four kills in 21 swings, while the Buckeyes put down 12 kills against five errors (.269). The home team's largest lead was eight (21-13), but MSU fought back into it with kills from Gros and Chronowski and an ace by Cox to make it 21-16 and force OSU to call a time out. OSU got to set point at 24-18, maintaining its six-point edge with a kill by Franklin; MSU fought it off with a kill by Swartz, but Franklin once again closed it out for her team with her ninth kill of the match. OSU had 20 digs in the second set alone, as MSU hit just .176 (10-4-34), and the Buckeyes had 18 kills against just five errors (.325). Swartz led MSU with three kills in the frame.

SET THREE: Ohio State took another early five-point edge in the third, rolling up four kills, a pair of aces, and a block to stake a 9-4 lead. A Haggerty kill and ace trimmed it to four at 13-9, but Franklin matched that to push the lead back to six at 17-11. MSU kept fighting within four, but were met with resistance by the scrappy Buckeye defense. MSU got within three (20-17), as both Chronowski and Haggerty started to get around the OSU defense; Chronowski was responsible for three straight Spartan kills as MSU pulled within a point at 22-21. After an OSU time out, MSU took the lead on a Chronowski kill and a block by Poljan and Shklyar before the Buckeyes could get a side out. Chronowski came up with a solo block to get the Spartans to set point, but OSU countered with kills from Franklin and Bukilic to take the advantage at 25-24. MSU tied things at 25 (Chronowski block) and 26 (Haggerty kill), but Smeathers got a kill and a block to close out the match for the home team. MSU hit .275 in the third set and had 15 kills – eight from Chronowski and four from Haggerty – and also got three blocks each from the duo of Poljan and Shklyar as they fought back to try to force a fourth set.

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