Spartans Fall 3-1 at No. 3 Nebraska

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

Michigan State fell at No. 3 Nebraska on Sunday afternoon, 3-1 (18-25, 9-25, 25-21, 25-16).

The Spartans have dropped back-to-back matches for the first time this season, and fall to 12-3 and 0-2 in the Big Ten. Nebraska is 11-1 and 2-0.

The Spartans fell behind 2-0 before battling back with a 25-21 win in the third set, but couldn't force a fifth set as the Big Red finished the fourth set on a 5-0 run.

Maddie Haggerty and Molly Johnson tied for the team lead with nine kills each; Haggerty added five digs while Johnson had three blocks. Naya Gros had a team-best six blocks and also had four kills and a pair of aces for the Spartans.

Lauren Stivrins had the match lead with seven blocks for Nebraska, adding seven kills. Lexi Sun (15 kills) and Mikaela Foecke (12 kills, eight digs, two blocks, .417) were the offensive leaders.

The Spartans get their first two home games of the Big Ten season next weekend. MSU hosts Penn State on Friday (BTN), then plays Rutgers at home on Saturday evening at Jenison Field House.

"The focus on our off day was to make ourselves better. I certainly saw today that we approached and executed better, but we also came up against a very talented Nebraska team. We're learning and growing, and are ready to put in a good week of practice before seeing Penn State and Rutgers at home next weekend."

 - Head Coach Cathy George

Molly Johnson had nine kills, three blocks and two digs.
Maddie Haggerty shared the team lead with nine kills, and added five digs.
Naya Gros had four kills, six blocks, and a pair of aces.

• Michigan State had a season-high 13 service errors. The most for the Spartans had been 12 vs. Chattanooga on Aug. 25.
• The Spartans had 29 hitting errors, 12 of which came via Nebraska blocks. It was the most this season for MSU, and it was the first time this season the Spartans hit under .100.
Rebecka Poljan and Molly Johnson were tied for second on the team with three blocks each.


SET ONE: Nebraska led by as many as four (8-4) early, but MSU was back within two after back –to-back kills from Gros and Chronowski. A pair of MSU mistakes led to a 3-0 run for the Huskers, who led by 12-7 when the Spartans called their first time out. With a 15-10 deficit, MSU used a 3-0 run of its own – fueled by a kill and a block by Maddie Haggerty – to pull within two points. Out of the break, the Huskers tried to pull away, but MSU was within three at 19-16 after a Chronowski kill. Nebraska came back with a kill by Mikaela Foecke and an ace by Stivrins to make it 21-16, and MSU called its second time out. The Huskers took the set by a 25-18 margin, helped by three blocks plus five other MSU hitting errors. Foecke and Lexi Sun each had four kills for Nebraska, while MSU was led by Molly Johnson with three. Naya Gros had one kill and had a hand in each of MSU's two blocks. The Spartans hit just .030 in the frame (9-8-33), compared to .222 (12-6-27) for Nebraska.

SET TWO: Nebraska started off the second frame with a 6-1 run, but MSU tried to climb back into it with a big block by Gros and Johnson at the left pin. The Spartans called time out down 10-4, but Nebraska put up a big block of its own on the first attempt out of the break. After a Gros kill, Nebraska got kills from Stivrins and Sun to make it 13-6, and trailing 15-7, the Spartans committed back-to-back errors after a Husker block that pushed the deficit out to 11 points (18-7). The home team continued their hot hand, closing out the set on a 6-1 run to take the frame 25-9. Nebraska hit .407 (13-2-27), while MSU managed just six kills against seven errors on 33 attempts (-.030). Foecke led her team with four kills, while Stivrins and Sun each had three; MSU's six kills were distributed among six different players. The Huskers were out-digging MSU 31-19 through two sets.

SET THREE: Chronowski gives her team an early lift with a kill and an ace, followed by a Johnson/Poljan block for a 3-0 edge. The Spartans retained a two to three point edge, leading 10-7 after a Chronowski termination, but Foecke countered with a dagger of her own to bring it back to a two-point edge. A big block by Gros on a Lexi Sun swing pushed MSU's lead out to a match-high four at 13-9; the home team countered with a kill, a block, and a service ace for a 3-0 run that trimmed the Spartan lead down to one, 13-12. The teams traded points out of the break, and with MSU holding a 16-14 edge, Naya Gros served up an ace to move the Spartan lead back to three, 17-14. MSU remained relentless – back-to-back kills by Poljan and Johnson pushed the Spartan lead out to five at 21-16, forcing Nebraska into a second time out. Consecutive MSU errors out of the break allowed the Huskers back within three, then a kill down the line by Sun shrunk the lead down to 21-19. A service error by Foecke gave MSU the sideout, and Haggerty recorded back-to-back kills to help the Spartans get to set point at 24-21. Nebraska's ensuing attack sailed long, and MSU trimmed it to 2-1 with the 25-21 win. Chronowski had four kills in the set whil e Johnson and Haggerty each had three; MSU out-blocked their hosts 2-1 and had its best hitting percentage of the match, (13-5-31, .258), while Nebraska had its worst (11-6-25, .200).

SET FOUR:Molly Johnson was a handful for Nebraska in the early part of the fourth, putting down two kills and a block to keep MSU within two points, at 8-6, a Haggerty shot was called long, but MSU challenged a touch on the way over. The review was overturned in favor of the Spartans, making it 8-7; Nebraska stormed back with three straight points to make it 11-7. MSU got the sideout on a service error, then got an ace from Gros and a block by Chronowski to pull back with two points at 12-10. The Huskers put together a 5-0 run to extend their lead out to seven (17-10), at which point the Spartans called their second time out. MSU came out of the break on a 3-0 run of its own, pulling within four (17-13) and forcing a Big Red time out. Nebraska put together its own 3-0 run out of their time out, which was stopped by a tool off the block by Haggerty and a solo stuff by Gros that trimmed the deficit down to four, 20-16. Back-to-back rallies went to the Huskers on terminations by Sun, and a kill and block by Stivrins got the home team to set point. Sun finished it off for the Huskers with her 15th kill of the match to give her team a 3-1 match victory.
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