The No. 25 MSU volleyball team was stunned by Northwestern on Friday, as they lost to the Wildcats in four sets (17-25, 25-19, 20-25, 22-25).
The Wildcats hitting percentage was the big problem for the Spartans, as they .230 during the game. Walking into the game, the Spartans had a Big Ten second-best opposition hitting percentage of .165.
That certainly was not the case in the first set, as the Wildcats came out in full offensive force, hitting .448 during the opening set.
The Spartans cooled down Northwestern’s hitting percentage the next set, holding them to a .075 mark, but that is the only set the Spartans would win, as a scrappy Northwestern team outplayed the Green and White.
Despite Northwestern losing five of its last six games, Spartan head coach Cathy George was not surprised with the Wildcats’ tenacity.
“They needed a win, and we knew they were going to fight hard to get it,” George said.
The Spartans’ struggles on the court could have stemmed from issues off the court, as George and sophomore libero Kori Moster both acknowledged there were distractions. The team issues were not specified, and Moster expects the team to use this game as a learning lesson.
“You learn something every time you step on the court,” Moster said. “We learned how we need to react to this sort of situation in the future.”
MSU takes on Illinois on Saturday, and after Friday’s game, freshman setter Halle Peterson only had the matchup against the Fighting Illini on her mind.
“We were down (in the locker room after the game), obviously, but we want to come back tomorrow, and that’s all we can do is look to tomorrow,” Peterson said.
Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski led the offensive attack for the Spartans with 16 kills, while junior setter Kristen Kelsay chipped in with a team-high 27 assists. The defense was led by junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews, who had five blocks on the night.
The Spartans take on Illinois at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Jenison Field House.