Tuesday, June 25, 2024

MSU volleyball overcomes threat from Oakland

Sophomore outside hitter and middle blocker Jenilee Rathje celebrates scoring a point in the second set of the game against Oakland at the Jenison Field House. The Spartans beat the Grizzlies 3-1.

The MSU volleyball team struggled to extend its winning streak Tuesday night with a 3-1 defeat of Oakland.

After a slow start, the team dominated the first set, rallying from a 7-7 tie early on to win the set 25-15.

The second set is when the game started to get closer.

MSU led early 6-3, when the Golden Grizzlies rallied to a 10-6 lead, forcing MSU head coach Cathy George to take a timeout.

The Spartans tied the game 16-16, but didn’t take the lead until 21-20, rallying to win the game 25-21.

Mistakes and miscues marred MSU in the third set. Oakland took to the Spartans early, never relinquishing the lead after tying the game 5-5. The Golden Grizzlies punctuated the game with a six-point rally to finish the set 17-25. MSU committed 11 errors in the set.

The Spartans seemed to get back on track in the fourth in final set, with sophomore libero Allyson Karaba and freshman libero Carli Weiler making key digs to keep MSU in the match. MSU took charge late in the set after another George timeout jump started the team from a 19-17 lead to win the set 25-19.

“We started to fight harder in game four,” George said. “There was a little bit more of a sense of urgency. We came at them a little stronger, but by that time, (Oakland) had built up some of their confidence and their steam. Then we started to play some defense.”

After the game, George said the team didn’t look ready to play from the beginning.

“We had a portion of our team that was not ready to play and it really affected the way we played as a team unit,” George said. “We recognize that we need to be prepared coming into a match and I don’t think we were all ready to go. I don’t think we were prepared, I could tell in pregame warm-up. That can’t happen for a team that is looking t be successful team. It’s not okay to take a night off.”

Junior middle blocker Vanessa King said the team might have taken Oakland for granted.

“We need to do a better job of taking charge and play our game, and letting them affect us,” King said. “I know we’re going to have some good practices this next couple days because we really want to get ready for the Big Ten, because that’s what (the nonconference schedule) is all about.”

The team plays next against Central Michigan on Saturday in Mount Pleasant, their last nonconference match of the season.

The Chippewas are 6-4 on the season and are currently riding a three game losing streak. However, the Spartans haven’t fared well in CMU’s Rose Arena, with the Chippewas leading the series there 10-1-1.

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