Some might consider it sweet revenge for a loss on the gridiron. Others might say it was a stroke of luck, albeit one of great triumph.
But regardless of the phrasing, the MSU volleyball team defeated No. 4 Nebraska in a thriller on Saturday at Jenison Field House. And, for what it’s worth, it certainly serves as head coach Cathy George and the team’s signature victory of the season.
Immediately after an exciting football game, 4,510 Spartan and Nebraska fans packed Jenison Field House to watch the two volleyball programs duke it out indoors.
Junior outside Lauren Wicinski said the team took immediate note of the scores of red-clad fans.
“There were a lot of Nebraska fans, and we were like ‘they are coming in our house, and they are not going to win on us,” Wicinski said.
The motivation fired the team up, as the Spartans won in a five-set thriller (25-13, 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 17-15) that might have rivaled the football game as game of the week.
The first set appeared to show flashes of last month’s match, as the Cornhuskers grabbed an early 6-3 lead. That trend didn’t last too long, as the Spartans fought back to tie it up at 6-6. The energy from the crowd fueled the Spartans, as they had a .417 hitting percentage and held the Cornhuskers to -.036 to take a commanding 25-13 victory.
The second set started with as much promise as the first set ended, as junior setter Kristen Kelsay chipped in with two service aces to give MSU a 3-1 lead. Nebraska then responded to give themselves a slight lead the majority of the set, until MSU tied the game up at 14 apiece.
The set remained close, as the widest margin was three points, but Nebraska ultimately took the game, 25-23.
Just as the second game, the third set was a tight one. The game was back-and-forth, with neither team earning a four point margin until the Spartans busted the game open with a 22-17 lead. Senior outside hitter Amy Dentlinger and Wicinski led the team with four kills apiece.
The fourth set appeared to be the clincher, as the Spartans were riding leads and momentum for the better part of the set. Jenison Field House exploded after the Spartans took a 22-20 lead, but Nebraska proved how hard they are to beat as they took the set, 25-23.
The fifth set gave fans a show worth the price of admission, displaying one of the most thrilling sets this season.
The Spartans jumped out to a 7-3 lead, but later squandered it to give Nebraska a dangerous 14-11 advantage. During the late set timeout, head coach Cathy George gave her team a game-changing message.
“(We said that) we’re going to be bold,” George said. “We are not going to let people do this in our gym.”
The Spartans did just that, as they rallied to defeat the Cornhuskers, 17-15.
After a season riddled with five-set losses,sophomore libero Kori Moster was overwhelmed with her thoughts after the game.
“I’m almost at a loss for words,” Moster said. “It really says something that we came together, and we did something we know we could have done all season, and this is the first time we really proved it.”
Wicinski led the offense with 19 kills tonight and three service aces.
Moster led the defense with 20 digs, with many of them being highlight-reel worthy. Sophomore middle blocker Jazmine White led the defense at the net, giving the Spartans eight blocks.