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Volleyball beats Northwestern, nearly upsets No. 1 Illinois

October 16, 2011

For the fourth consecutive weekend, the MSU volleyball team split its weekend games, toppling Northwestern 3-1 on Friday but dropping a 3-2 heartbreaker to No. 1 Illinois.

The Spartans (15-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) came within a few points of upsetting the No. 1 team in the country, but were unable to close out a couple early sets before falling to the Fighting Illini in five.

Senior outside hitter Kyndra Abron tallied 16 kills in a losing effort against Illinois, becoming the 18th player in program history to amass 1,000 kills in her career, joining fellow senior outside hitter Jenilee Rathje, who surpassed the mark in the final game of last season.

Against Northwestern, Rathje and Abron showed the same senior leadership they’ve had all season, tallying 23 and 21 kills respectively. Sophomore middle blocker Alexis Mathews also had 10 kills on the night while posting five blocks at the net. Freshman libero Kori Moster had a career night, racking up 28 digs as the Spartans went on to beat the Wildcats for the third straight time, dating back to last season.

But it was a different story against Illinois. The Spartans came out strong in each set, forcing Illinois to call the first timeout in the first four sets. However, the Fighting Illini were able to regroup, taking sets one and two and finally closing out the match, 15-9, in set five. Rathje added 15 kills to Abron’s 16, also netting a double-double, as she recorded 12 digs. Freshman middle blocker Jazmine White led the team in blocks with five.

The Spartans will return home on Wednesday when they take on the No. 20 Michigan Wolverines at Jenison Field House at 8:00 p.m.

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