Spartans Battle In Five-Set Loss at No. 3 Minnesota

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

Michigan State dropped a hard-fought battle on the road at No. 3 Minnesota on Saturday, pushing the Gophers to five sets for the first time this season before ultimately falling 3-2 (25-23, 19-25, 17-25, 25-21, 7-15).

The Spartans won the first set then battled in the fourth set to stake a 25-21 victory, bringing the home team into unfamiliar territory – a fifth set. The Gophers compiled nine kills and a pair of blocks in that final frame to remain unblemished in Conference play (20-2, 14-0 B1G). Michigan State put up a good fight against the No. 3 Gophers for the second straight weekend, hitting .189 and totaling 14 team blocks, tying its second-highest match total this season.

Alyssa Chronowski finished with 14 kills, five blocks, and five digs. Maddie Haggerty had her second straight double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs, adding a season-best four blocks and hitting .323 (13-3-21). Rebecka Poljan rounded out MSU's double-digit scorers with 10 kills and shared the team high of six blocks; Naya Gros also had six stuffs to go with five kills.

Minnesota placed four in double-digit kills with Regan Pittman leading the way against MSU for the second straight weekend with 15 kills; she added eight blocks for the match lead. Stephanie Samedy, Alexis Hart, and Adanna Rollins all had 14 kills in the Gophers' balanced attack. Samantha Seliger-Swenson posted 55 assists.

Michigan State returns home for a pair of games next week. The Spartans host Ohio State on Wednesday, and then welcomes Iowa to Jenison Field House on Saturday.

"There's not any moral victories, but I'm really proud of our effort and execution tonight. This is the second straight week we have played Minnesota really tough, and at the end of a stretch where we've played five straight top-13 teams, it would be really easy for those losses to weigh heavily and drag our team down. Instead, we continue to fight, and that's a testament to the players we have in that locker room. You can only overcome inexperience by gaining experience, and tonight we learned a lot and saw some really good things. We will soon be rewarded."

Maddie Haggerty had her second straight double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs, adding four blocks.
Alyssa Chronowski posted 14 kills and added five kills and five digs.
Rebecka Poljan posted 10 kills and hit .259.
Jamye Cox had 22 digs.

• MSU;s first set victory was the fourth straight set victory for MSU at Maturi Pavilion. The Spartans swept the then-No. 1 Gophers last September in Minneapolis.
• MSU recorded double-digit blocks for the first time since an Oct. 12 match at Maryland. It is the 12th double-digit blocking effort for MSU this season.
• Haggerty had her second straight double-double and fourth of the season.
Naya Gros had six blocks, her highest block total since posting eight on Sept. 28 vs. Penn State.
• MSU had seven service aces, but committed 10 errors from the service line.


SET ONE: MSU ran out to a 7-1 lead on the Gophers, using a pair of aces and two blocks. Minnesota called time out to try to halt the Spartan momentum, but the Green and White were able to maintain their poise and played even with the Gophers. Minnesota closed within two at 12-10 after three straight kills by Regan Pittman, at which point MSU called a time out. Lauren Swartz put down her first kill of the night to stop the Minnesota run, but the home team was able to tie things up at 14-all on a Morgan Taylor kill. The teams traded points until a kill and a block by Pittman allowed the home team to take its first multi-point lead of the night at 18-16; a Samedy kill allowed the Gophers to open it up at 20-17 with a roll shot over the block. MSU came back with consecutive blocks – Naya Gros had a hand in both – to trim it to 20-19, and an illegal contact against Minnesota tied things up at 20-20. An MSU error and a Pittman kill gave the Gophers a two-point lead, at which time MSU called its second time out. Gros came out of the break with a big kill, and the Spartans tied things at 22 and 23; a Shklyar ace got MSU to set point, and Haggerty put it away for the first set win, 25-23. Chronowski and Haggerty each had four kills in the set, while Naya Gros led MSU with three blocks. Elena Shklyar had a pair of aces and seven assists. MSU out-blocked the Gophers 5-2, and held a .189 hitting percentage to Minnesota's .200.

SET TWO: Minnesota opened up a 5-3 lead, but the Spartans got back into it with kills from Chronowski and Haggerty to tie things at 5-5. A 3-0 run for the home team prompted MSU to call its first time out, and when the Spartans came back with a 3-0 run of their own out of the break, (including kills from Gros and Swartz), the Gophers called a time out of their own with an 8-8 score on the board. With the teams tied at 10, Minnesota went to Samedy three times in a row, and she converted each one to give her team a three-point edge again, and force MSU to take its second time out. The Gopher lead grew to four (15-11), then five (18-13) after a kill by Adanna Rollins; despite the Spartans playing even with the Gophers, the home team won the race to 20 (20-16). A service error by MSU and a big block by Taylor and Samedy made it 22-16, but a block to return the favor from Haggerty and Poljan, followed by a Shklyar ace, trimmed it back to a four-point game, (22-18). Minnesota got a block from Morgan and Rollins along with a set-sealing termination by Samedy to tie the match 1-1 with a 25-19 set victory. Both teams had 14 kills in the set, with MSU hitting .250 (14-4-40) and the Gophers .294 (14-4-34); MSU did have four service errors in the frame, and the Gophers held a 3-2 edge in blocks.

SET THREE: The Gophers got the first point of the set on a kill by Morgan, but MSU ripped off six straight on a Haggerty service run to take a 6-1 lead. Chronowski and Poljan teamed up for a pair of blocks in the run, while Haggerty helped her own cause with a kill and an ace. The Gophers called a time out, entered a zone where they played virtually mistake-free volleyball – putting up nine kills and five blocks to pull ahead 15-8, a 14-1 run. MSU called time out to try to regroup, MSU played even with the Gophers over the next six points to trail 18-11, but was saddled with a negative hitting percentage (6-8-23, -.087) in large part due to the five Gopher blocks. Meanwhile, the Gopher lead grew to 21-13 as the home team was hitting an impressive 12-2-20 in the set. The Spartans did not allow themselves to get discouraged, getting bak within six on a block by Gros and a kill by Chronowski (22-16). A service error and Pittman kill got the Gophers to set point, but Chronowski fended it off with her 11th kill of the night. Pittman sealed it for the Gophers with her 10th kill, taking a 2-1 match lead with a 25-17 win. MSU picked up three blocks in the frame to Minnesota's five, and had 11 kills to Minnesota's 15. Chronowski led MSU with five kills and a pair of blocks in the frame.

SET FOUR: Poljan opened the fourth with back-to-back kills, and MSU built a 6-4 edge after a block by Gros and Haggerty, MSU's 11th of the match. The Gophers tied things at 10-10, but a solo block by Swartz, a pair of attack errors for the Gophers, and a Maggie Midgette ace gave MSU a 15-11 edge. Minnesota called time out, and got two quick points on a Pittman kill and a Spartan rotation error to bring the home team back within two at 15-13, and the Gophers went to Rollins for three straight kills to take a 16-15 lead. MSU called its second time out, and immediately got a kill from Gros to stop the Minnesota run. Trailing 16-18, MU scored six of the next seven points, taking a 23-18 edge. Johnson came up with her second big kill of the run, and even despite the Gophers twice fending off set point, Haggerty got the kill shot to give MSU a 25-21 win in the fourth set. MSU hit .275 behind four kills from Haggerty and three each from Johnson and Poljan.

SET FIVE: A net violation for MSU gave the Gophers the first point in the fifth, but consecutive kills by Johnson and Chronowski put the Spartans up 2-1. Minnesota put three straight on the board – two from Rollins and one from Samedy – to take a 4-2 lead, and MSU called a quick time out. The Gophers got three straight of points out of the break – on a kill from Rollins and a pair of MSU errors – to pull ahead 7-2, but MSU fought back with a kill by Poljan and a solo stuff by Chronowski, to pull within three. A kill by Pittman got the Gophers to an 8-4 lead for the crossover. A kill and a block helped the Gophers build a 10-5 lead, but a kill by Haggerty and a net violation let MSU back within four. MSU put three balls out of bounds to help Minnesota to a 14-7 edge, and a Pittman termination closed it out. MSU had four hitting errors in the set (two off of Gopher blocks), while Minnesota had nine kills and hit .368.

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