Friday, December 2, 2022

Volleyball loses sixth straight match

November 7, 2010

Junior defensive specialist Carli Weiler digs for a low ball Friday at Jenison Field House. MSU fell to Ohio State, 3-0.

Photo by Kat Petersen | The State News

Despite winning its first set against Penn State since Oct. 16, 2004, the MSU volleyball team was unable to come up with a match win against the No. 9 Nittany Lions on Saturday at Jenison Field House. Losing 3-1, MSU now has extended its losing streak to six matches.

Playing in front of a crowd of more than 4,300 for both matches, the Spartans (11-14 overall, 3-11 Big Ten) also were shutout by Ohio State, 3-0, on Friday.

“We came up close, and we just made too many unforced errors … and really, we can’t afford to give points away like that,” head coach Cathy George said of her team’s performance against the Buckeyes (19-8, 7-7).

While hitting .134 on Friday night, MSU had 16 unforced errors with 10 of them being errors from the service line.

Junior outside hitter Jenilee Rathje led the Spartans’ offense with 12 kills, while senior outside hitter Megan Schatzle had seven, and freshman middle blocker Kelsey Kuipers added four. Freshman setter Kristen Kelsay also had a team-high of 15 assists.

“(Kelsay) had moments of really playing well,” George said. “She’s doing a great job as a freshman and certainly deserves all those kudos. I think she started rushing plays a little bit at times, and she needed to get her feet … in better position, so she could really set a better ball.”

While the Spartans were out-blocked, 10-8, they said they started to pick up their defense near the end to push back against Ohio State’s fast-paced attack.

“They have a quick transition game, and they really do try to catch you off guard,” George said. “I thought they gained the advantage there.

“I thought we started playing well and started picking up some of that, but then at key, critical times, again, just didn’t answer.”

MSU was able to quickly move past the Ohio State loss against the Nittany Lions (21-4, 11-3) on Saturday. The Spartans hit .370 and .462 in the first two sets, which propelled them toward the second-set win against the three-time defending national champions.

“Against Penn State, we came out in the second game really strong,” junior outside hitter Becca Zlabis said. “We played Spartan volleyball, and we know that we could beat them if we just play our game.

“We learned from playing Ohio State that when it gets to 20-20, just do what we need to do individually and produce, and … I though we did that better (Saturday).”

After falling behind, 8-2, in the second consecutive set, MSU rallied to tie the score at 13 before ultimately winning, 25-22. It was the team’s first home set win against Penn State since Sept. 26, 2003.

But the Spartans were unable to continue the momentum, losing the next two sets and the match.

“I think they served really tough, and that we went kind of up and down with their serving and then passing,” Kelsay said. “Also, (Penn State setter) Kristin Carpenter runs a great offense with hitters that just get up and swing at the ball.”

Despite having such strong hitters, Penn State and MSU came out with nine team blocks apiece, but Penn State put down 62 kills compared to the Spartans’ 51.

Rathje again led the attack with 14 kills, and junior outside hitter Kyndra Abron had 13. Kelsay and junior setter Natalie Emro put up 25 and 19 assists, respectively.

Defensively, junior libero Carli Weiler had 13 digs, while Zlabis posted eight.

Against Ohio State, MSU was without Abron and senior libero Allyson Karaba, who also was out against the Nittany Lions.

“We’ve had to adjust with different lineups based on injuries and different issues,” George said. “So with that, the team has really had to be versatile. I think that’s good; that shows they can make those changes.”

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