Iowa's Comeback Effort Downs Spartans, 3-1

Michigan State Volleyball (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Michigan State Volleyball (PHOTO: MSU SID)

Michigan State dropped a heartbreaker at home on Saturday evening against visiting Iowa, falling to the Hawkeyes 3-1, (25-20, 28-30, 19-25, 25-23). The Spartans dropped both games to Iowa this season, the first time the Hawkeyes have come up with two wins over MSU in the same season since 1991.

The game was entertaining for the 3,636 fans who came out to Jenison Field House, as both teams hit better than .240 on the night and battled through 29 tie scores and 12 lead changes over the course of the match. MSU narrowly missed taking a 2-0 match lead with a 28-30 loss in set two, and Iowa battled back from a four-point deficit to rally for a 7-1 run to close out the fourth set to seal the match victory.

The Spartans (16-13, 4-12 B1G) hit .244 on the night, and had four players with double-digit kills; Maddie Haggerty had 16 kills, hit .256 and had 12 digs for her fourth straight double-double, while freshman Molly Johnson had career-bests in kills (14) and hitting percentage (.511), adding three blocks. Lauren Swartz added 12 kills on a .400 hitting percentage and added three blocks and five digs. Alyssa Chronowski also had 13 kills and four digs, while Jamye Cox had 20 digs.

Iowa was paced by Taylor Louis, who had 16 kills and a pair of blocks for the Hawkeyes (14-13, 6-10 B1G). Meghan Buxxerio hit .300 and had 12 kills and 10 digs for a double-double, and setter Brie Orr also had a double-double with 44 assists and 10 digs. Amiya Jones had seven blocks. The Hawkeyes edged MSU in both hitting percentage (.269), and blocks (12-7), and had nine service aces to MSU's five.

Michigan State now prepares for the penultimate week of the regular season, which finds it on the road on Wednesday at Rutgers before the annual Jam Jenison match vs. Michigan next Saturday. The MSU-Michigan match time will be announced on Monday.

"We had leads, but showed our inexperience in closing out sets and matches. It's something we're working on, but it frustrated us tonight. We did a lot of good things – we saw a lot of big performances this week over our two matches, but tonight we couldn't close it out when we had control. Iowa is so vastly improved – and I thought we were much better and had much more fight in us than when we played them in the first game of the Big Ten schedule."

Molly Johnson led all Spartans with a .522 hitting percentage, posting 14 kills on 23 swings with just two errors. She also had three blocks and two digs.
Maddie Haggerty had her fourth straight double-double with 16 kills and 12 digs, adding a service ace
Lauren Swartz finished with 12 kills, bettering her previous career high of nine. She also tied her career best with five digs and hit .400, her second-best single-game performance of the season.

Maggie Midgette (28 assists) and Elena Shkelyar (34 assists) continue to run a 6-2 offense for the Spartans
Jamye Cox posted 20 digs
Alyssa Chronowski had 13 kills, four digs, and a solo block.
Maddie Haggerty leads MSU with six double-doubles on the season, including four straight.


SET ONE: A Maddie Haggerty ace tied things at 3-3 for MSU, but the Hawkeyes put together a 5-0 run that allowed for an 8-3 lead, helped with a pair of blocks by Amiya Jones. Molly Johnson and Alyssa Chronowski quickly trimmed things back down to a three-point deficit, but Iowa got it back to five (12-7) by hitting .500 (8-1-14) with three blocks to open the match, compared to four kills against three errors for MSU. MSU climbed back within one at 16-15 on consecutive terminations by Johnson and Swartz and a pair of Hawkeye miscues, and the Iowa bench called its first time out of the set. The Spartans took advantage of another Iowa error to tie the game at 16, and that was the start of a 14-4 run that gave MSU a 25-20 victory in the opening set. Haggerty, Johnson, and Swartz each had three kills as MSU hit .250 (15-6-36), with five of the six errors attributed to Hawkeye blocks. Meghan Buzzerio led her team with five kills and hit .444, while Jones had a hand on four of Iowa's blocks in the frame.

SET TWO: The Spartans started off the second set with a 3-1 lead, but the Hawkeyes wasted no time getting back into it and posted a 9-3 run to take a 10-6 advantage. Iowa secured five kills on 10 swings in that run, but MSU came out of its timeout with a big kill off the block by Swartz followed by a Haggerty kill to cut it down to a two-point deficit. Iowa extended their lead back out to a match-best five at 16-11, but the Spartans pulled back within a point on a 4-0 run before Iowa countered with three straight of their own, making it an 18-15 lead. Chronowski went cross-court and Swartz got crafty with a tip to once again make it a one-point affair, and a solo stuff by Lauren Swartz solo block tied things at 19-19. Iowa scored three of the next four points to pull ahead 22-20, but MSU went on a 3-0 run after the timeout – fueled by kills from Haggerty and Poljan. Jones tied it at 23's for Iowa, but Shklyar went to Chronowski on the ensuing play to get the Spartans to set point – and Iowa called a timeout. The teams traded points, each getting to set point and holding off others; MSU won a big challenge at 27-26 when George asked that they look for a touch and the teams played on. At 28-all, Iowa took an advantage on a Taylor Louis kill, and Maddie Slagle followed with an ace to take the second set. The battle was impressive – both teams hit better than .340 in the set, as MSU had 24 kills (24-7-49) to Iowa's 16-3-38. (.342). MSU got seven kills from Chronowski and six each from Haggerty and Swartz.

SET THREE: Iowa took a 6-2 edge in the third set on a pair of Louis kills sandwiched around Jones' fifth block of the night. The lead grew to four after an MSU error (9-5), but the Spartans countered with a 3-0 run to trim the deficit down to a single point and tied things up at 10-10. MSU took a 14-13 lead after Chronowski and Gros went back-to-back, but the visitors countered with a 4-1 run to pull ahead by three (18-15). MSU called timeout to try to slow the momentum, but Iowa scored the first three out of the break to make it a six-point Spartan deficit, 21-15 – their largest deficit of the night. Iowa got to set point at 24-16 with some help from consecutive MSU errors, but then committed back-to-back errors of its own to make it 24-18. Cox aced her next serve to trim the lead to five, but a block by Hannah Clayton and Regan Coyle closed out the third set with a 25-19 win for Iowa. The Hawkeyes hit .171 in the frame (11-5-35), with more than half of those kills coming from Louis; MSU had nine errors against 12 kills (.073) and got four kills from Johnson. Iowa also held a 3-1 edge in blocks, pushing their match advantage to 9-4.

SET FOUR: The teams stayed within two points of one another in the early stages of the fourth set, with MSU using a 4-0 run to turn a 6-4 deficit into an 8-6 lead, getting a kill and a block from Poljan and a kill from Haggerty. The teams were once again in a tight battle with both squads hitting better than .400 – 11 of MSUs first 13 points came on kills, (11-3-16, .500), and Iowa was hitting .357 (7-2-17). With MSU holding a 14-13 edge, The Spartans went to Swartz twice in a row and followed with an ace from Cox – her third – to push MSU's advantage out to four points, and Iowa called a timeout. MSU won the race to 20 by holding on to that four-point edge but gave back Iowa two of those points on an error and a Hawkeye ace to trim the lead to 20-18, and the Spartans called timeout. Out of the break, MSU got a big swing from Johnson at the right pin and a solo stuff by Chronowski – MSU's seventh of the match – to restore the four-point lead (22-18), and Iowa took its turn to call a timeout. The Hawkeyes responded with a 5-1 run out of their break, which included a pair of aces, to tie things up a 23-all. MSU took a timeout, but when the teams got back on the floor, Brie Orr dumped it over the net to get the visitors to set point, and an error by MSU ended the match as the Hawkeyes took it by a 25-23 score, closing out the set on a 7-1 run. Johnson had five kills and a pair of blocks in the final set, and both Poljan and Haggerty added four. Louis led her team with four terminations in the final frame, and Hannah Clayton had two kills and two of Iowa's three blocks in the set.

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