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Volleyball sweeps road game in Toledo by total of seven points

September 19, 2010

As in so many previous matches this season, senior outside hitter Megan Schatzle proved to be the leading force in the MSU volleyball team’s 3-0 win over Toledo on Friday.

The Spartans (8-3) took down the Rockets (5-6) to improve their
all-time record against Toledo to 6-2.

“I think we were just really tired of not playing well against teams we know we can beat,” Schatzle said. “We knew we had to step it up for Toledo, and that’s what we did.”

Schatzle led with 16 kills on the night, and junior outside hitter Kyndra Abron added nine. Junior setter Natalie Emro led her team in assists with a total of 34, and junior outside hitter Becca Zlabis and sophomore defensive specialist Mandi Karaba each tallied nine digs.

“Schatzle’s play was very impressive,” head coach Cathy George said. “She really gutted it out for us against Toledo, and she came up big with some big swings at key times and really put us over the edge.”

In the opening set of the match, MSU quickly fell to a four-point deficit before rallying back to take the lead at 8-7. Toledo held on while the Spartans tried to give themselves a larger lead, and it wasn’t until Abron made a powerful kill that MSU got a three-point lead at 18-15.

The Spartans took the first set after Emro and junior outside hitter Jenilee Rathje made a solid block to give MSU the set, 25-23.

MSU opened the second game with a 7-4 lead and when Rathje made a solo block, the Spartans’ recent work on their blocking became increasingly evident.

Despite the Rockets’ attempt to take the lead away from the Spartans, redshirt freshman
middle blocker Alexis Mathews and Schatzle teamed up for a solid block to bring the Spartans’ lead to 21-17.

“We blocked extremely well,” Zlabis said. “We stayed disciplined in our blocks, and no one slacked off and that’s easy for our defense to play with that. We really kept our cool.”

At 25-22, Schatzle finished off the second set for the Spartans with a kill. She tallied a total of eight kills in that set.

“I thought that we were handling ourselves with much more poise,” George said. “I felt that we were much better with the movement of the team (compared to last weekend).”

Despite taking a commanding 2-0 lead in sets, the Spartans struggled to pull away from the Rockets in the third. The two teams remained neck-and-neck and traded the lead several times.

After being tied at nine, MSU tried to gain a little lead and made the score 11-9. However, Toledo quickly responded by going on a 5-1 run and taking the lead away from the Spartans to make it 14-12. As the two teams struggled, MSU closed the
gap at 21-20 with a strong kill from Mathews.

With the Spartans determined to put Toledo away and the Rockets trying to stay alive,
both teams were determined to win the set.

Toledo saw four set points as the score rose, while MSU had one at 26-25. Pushing through, the Spartans ended the game and the match at 31-29.

George said she was very impressed her team did not let up and finished strong against Toledo.

“We were down, and we just clawed back into it and won that game and finished it off in three,” George said. “I was very impressed with the way that
we went about our business there. We had some key stops, and we had some key blocks at the time.”

The Spartans continue their play next weekend when they open their Big Ten season by hosting Minnesota and Iowa on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, at Breslin Center. Both matches are set for 7 p.m.

“Everyone’s mentality was, ‘We’re not going to lose this game,’” Zlabis said. “It’s very hard for a team to come back like that, and we worked so hard that we weren’t going to let them win.”

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