Friday, May 24, 2024

Spartans split weekend homestand

November 7, 2005
Sophomore libero Nicole Colaluca, left, and sophomotr defensive setter Miken Trogdon dive to save the same spike during Friday's third match against Iowa at Jenison Field House. The Spartans won the match, 3-2.

The MSU volleyball team secured a five-game victory over Iowa on Friday night, but failed to ride the wave of momentum on Saturday, falling to No. 17 Minnesota in four games.

The Spartans (11-13 overall, 4-10 Big Ten) are now eighth in the Big Ten standings.

MSU looked strong in its first game against the Golden Gophers (20-5, 10-4). The game turned after the Spartans won an extended volley to take a 10-7 advantage and never relinquished the lead. Minnesota battled back to tie at 15-15 but could not pull ahead. The Spartans took nine of the next 10 points, going up 24-16, and eventually won by a 30-22 score.

The Golden Gophers recovered to take the next three games. Minnesota won easily in the second game, 30-23. The third game was closely contested, as MSU stayed within one point of the Gophers through the final stretch, but could not put consecutive scores together to gain an advantage. Minnesota held off the MSU rally and took the game, 34-32.

Minnesota then slammed the door shut on any hope of an MSU comeback with a 30-24 win in the fourth game.

MSU head coach Cathy George said the Spartans played well enough to stay with the nationally-ranked Minnesota squad but faltered in crucial situations.

"At key times we didn't close out," George said. "We were right there with them. A little more composure at certain times and we could have brought them to a fifth game."

Sophomore outside hitters Katie Johnson and Ashley Schatzle led the Spartans' attack against Minnesota, combining for 47 kills. Sophomore libero Nicole Colaluca had 27 digs for the MSU defense.

George said the Spartans need to finish games as strongly as they start them. MSU had a lead in all three of the games they lost but allowed Minnesota to overtake them.

"I want to see us be able to close out games," George said. "I don't want to just get close. I want to get beyond that."

Against Iowa on Friday, MSU erased a loss in the first game by taking the second, 30-26, behind five kills from Johnson.

The teams traded games again, and MSU held off a late rally by the Hawkeyes to win the fifth game, 15-11.

Johnson had a floor-high 24 kills on the night, while senior setter Mickey Davis added 61 assists.

George said the Spartans are getting victories against the teams they should beat. Wins against better teams, such as Penn State and Minnesota, have been harder to come by.

"(Friday) we got the win we needed to win," George said. "We didn't count on (beating Minnesota). Minnesota would have been a frosting win. We need to beat certain teams."

The Spartans travel to Ann Arbor on Wednesday to face Michigan before returning home to play Indiana on Saturday.

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