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Volleyball defeats Michigan in battle of in-state rivals

October 17, 2012
	<p>From left, sophomore outside hitter Taylor Galloway and freshman setter Halle Peterson talk after a volley Wednesday night, Oct. 17, 2012, at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Spartans defeated the Michigan Wolverines in three straight sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-20). Adam Toolin/The State News</p>

From left, sophomore outside hitter Taylor Galloway and freshman setter Halle Peterson talk after a volley Wednesday night, Oct. 17, 2012, at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Spartans defeated the Michigan Wolverines in three straight sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-20). Adam Toolin/The State News

Photo by Adam Toolin | The State News

Ann Arbor, Mich. – The MSU football team has yet to take the field against Michigan, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early for MSU to celebrate a Spartan victory.

The MSU volleyball team (16-5 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) came into Ann Arbor looking to take home the coveted State Pride flag, which is awarded to the winning team in the storied in-state rivalry.

The Spartans wasted no time brutalizing the Wolverines (16-7, 4-5) with their potent offense, as they swept Michigan in three sets (25-20, 25-17, 25-20).

The beginning of the first set appeared to hold a battle, with Michigan taking an early 6-8 lead. That didn’t last long, as the Spartans pulled away to take the first game in front of a vocal Michigan crowd.

The MVP of the first set was sophomore libero Kori Moster, who tallied 10 digs in the first set. Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski also came out aggressive, grabbing six kills in the opening set. Head coach Cathy George noticed Moster’s defensive display and said that it changed the momentum for the rest of the game.

If the fans at Cliff Keen Arena thought they saw the Spartans’ offense at their best in the first set, they certainly were surprised for what the second set held.

Michigan struck with the first point of the game, and that caused the Michigan student section to cue up a “you suck” chant directed toward the Spartans. However, it appears the fans spoke too soon, as the Spartans exploded to take a 8-3 lead.

The Spartans held on to the lead throughout the set, with 10 points being their biggest margin, and walked into the locker room with all the momentum the gym could hold.

Last Saturday, MSU had the same situation, walking into the locker room up 2-0. The Spartans eventually went on to lose that match, but the team had a different mentality on Wednesday night.

“The team was very aware (of last Saturday’s game), and assured that whatever run Michigan got (in the third set), they would answer it,” George said.

And that is just what happened, as the Spartans turned a back-and-forth set into an MSU victory, sweeping the Wolverines and taking the State Pride flag home.

Wicinski led the Spartans with 18 kills with a .341 hitting percentage. Wicinski, who transferred from Northern Illinois this season, took in her first experience with the rivalry.

“(My teammates) were like ‘Hey, Michigan is our rivalry, and we need to beat them,’ and I just said ‘All right, let’s go’,” Wicinski explained with a smile on her face.

The Spartans came out with unbridled energy, and it appeared that Michigan’s student section, which was seated behind MSU’s bench, fueled the fire for the Spartans.

Notable chants of “bite-sized Spartan” and “grow, grow, grow” could be heard when Moster served the ball. The spirit of the students, however, wasn’t enough to throw Moster off her game, as she finished with 16 digs on the night.

“Honestly, I never hear what they say,” Moster said. “(You’ve) got to find humor in that, and it’s something that fires you up, and it feels great when you make them shut up.”

The humor from the chants translated in smiles for the Spartans, as they walk out of Ann Arbor avenging a 1-3 loss from last season.

The Spartans look to carry their solid performance into Jenison Field House, as they face Ohio State at 6:30 on Friday in East Lansing.

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