With a third-consecutive loss, head coach Cathy George said it’s time for the volleyball team to get back to basics — and back to work.
The volleyball team (17-4 overall, 6-3 Big Ten) lost a stunner to No. 17 Michigan (14-6 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) in four sets (20-25, 25-22, 26-24, 32-30). Fans showed up in droves to watch the rivalry match. The total attendance number reached 6,183, the highest total ever for a Jenison volleyball game and the second highest in MSU volleyball history.
“That’s pretty amazing for this building,” George said. “Great crowd, great support. I really feel bad that we let them down. We’ve got to make up for that. “
A major factor in the losing streak has been not taking care of the ball, and that continued Wednesday night. MSU totaled 28 attack errors and 18 service errors for the match.
In the locker room after the game, George preached accountability to her players. She said the team has to get back to the level of play they began the season with, and noted that the balance that the team prided itself in has disappeared.
“People are trying to do a little bit too much more than they have to,” George said. “You don’t have to press to get things done. You have to execute to get things done. There has to be patience in your game.”
Senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski scored 18 kills on 62 attempts, eight-shy of the 70 she attempted against Wisconsin on Sunday. She added a season-high 16 digs. Freshman middle blocker Allyssah Fitterer added 10 kills and three blocks, and senior middle blocker Alexis Mathews had nine kills and eight blocks. The Spartans got off to a solid start, winning the first set, 25-20. Service errors kept the game closer than it should have been, as Fitterer and Wicinski had two each.
The Spartans responded by scoring seven straight, taking a 14-7 lead. Michigan never got within closer to a five-point deficit for the rest of the set, and MSU finished the with a kill from Christenson.
In the second set, the Spartans then took a 17-14 lead, but Michigan once again tied the score at 17-17, and later at 20-20. Reinig and Wicinski scored two kills to take a 22-20 lead, but MSU closed out after three straight kills by Michigan, a bad set by Kelsay and an attack error by Reinig.
Michigan kept the momentum going with a 26-24 set three win. MSU took set point, 24-22, on a Christenson kill. A service error by sophomore setter Halle Peterson cut the lead to one.
Wicinski appeared to give MSU set point on a kill, but the refs ruled her shot, which landed in the corner of MIchigan’s side of the net, an attack error. The call elicited boos from the record crowd as Michigan tied the game, 24-24. Cross won the third set for the Wolverines with consecutive kills.
“I thought it was in the back corner,” George said. “We got ripped off at Wisconsin too on a critical call. (In) Minnesota we had one as well, and that’s pretty disappointing.”
Michigan went on to win the match in a thrilling set four, 32-30. MSU held on for dear life, forcing match point several times, but Michigan pulled away in the end.
The Spartans ran out of subs at the end, which factored into the loss.
Senior setter Kristen Kelsay said the team has to maintain consistent effort.
“You have to come out every play and battle,” Kelsay said. “When it becomes a decision, whether this point we’re going to fight or not, that’s when a good Michigan team is going to take that away from you.”