MSU volleyball may have seen its 18-set winning streak stopped when it dropped the first set to IPFW in the first game of the Auto-Owners Insurance Invitational, but the Spartans fought back and won their seventh match in a row, 3-2.
Head coach Cathy George is happy with the win, however.
“It’s OK to be tested,” she said. “I’m proud we were able to come back and win.”
Freshman setter Halle Peterson, who recorded her first career double-double with 27 assists and 12 digs, liked what she saw too.
“Our team came together,” she said. “We handled the nerves and the chaos well. We weren’t playing timid.”
The first set started with MSU and IPFW struggling to seize control, with neither team having much success. Eventually IPFW found itself long enough to surge ahead at the end and take the set 25-23.
“We knew they would come out hot,” sophomore libero Kori Moster said. “They’re an aggressive, scrappy team.”
After another set that saw both teams fail to take over early on, the Mastadons made some plays and took an 18-14 lead. George immediately called timeout.
“I told them ‘this team is here to win,’” she said. “We’ve got to battle back.”
The Spartans did exactly that, going on an 11-4 run to close the set. Set three featured more of the same, with MSU leading throughout and taking it 25-15.
Set four saw the Mastadons turn the tables on the Spartans, leading by as many as eight before MSU rallied to make it close. MSU still lost, 25-22, but George thought their rally was a big deal.
“We were able to start taking control,” she said.
Playing their first fifth set of the season, MSU picked up right where they left off, winning 15-9 to take the match. Things were close early on, but MSU seized control behind junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski and junior middle blocker Kelsey Kuipers, who each had three kills, finishing on a 7-3 run.
Wicinski led all players with 23 kills and added 9 digs, senior outside hitter Amy Dentlinger set a career high with 15 kills, sophomore outside hitter Taylor Galloway had 12 kills and 9 digs, junior setter Kristen Kelsay had 31 assists and Moster had 26 digs.
Overall, Moster thinks the Spartans’ relative struggles will be fairly easy to fix.
“You don’t rebuild a team in one weekend,” she said. “But we learned some things tonight.”
MSU will take on Albany on Saturday at noon, followed by Georgia at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be played at Jenison Field house.
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