Despite holding a 2-1 lead at one point, No. 14 MSU (4-2) could not hold off No. 19 Duke (5-1) in a thriller at Jenison Field House.
Former two-time All-American player Lauren Wicinski took center stage pregame as her name was raised to the Jenison Field House rafters.
“To see her on the court again was amazing,” sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig said. “She really deserved that award.”
Wicinski was an integral piece for a Spartan team which reached the Sweet Sixteen in her junior and senior years.
“She did a great job of bringing a fighting spirit to the team,” head coach Cathy George said. “She’s a great player.”
MSU used a quick start to propel them to victory in the first set. Reinig led the way with three kills in the set. Sophomore middle blocker and opposite hitter Allyssah Fitterer contributed three digs in the first set as well.
“We definitely took what we learned from yesterday and bought it to today,” Fitterer said. “There’s little things we could improve on to get that much further.”
Fitterer finished with 14 kills and seven digs.
An attack error by Duke gave the Spartans a 6-1 lead and it looked like MSU would cruise in the second set. However, a 17-6 Duke run highlighted by a kill from the Blue Devils’ middle blocker Jordan Tucker turned the tide in the set.
After trailing 17-10 in the third set, the Spartans stormed back and took a 20-19 lead. A Reinig kill finished the comeback. Reining had 12 kills and two digs.
The fourth set was the most compelling. MSU and Duke went toe to toe before a controversial block by Duke’s middle blocker Alyse Whitaker won the Blue Devils the set and tied the game 2-2.
“I still don’t know what it was,” George said about the controversial call. “That would’ve been the game.”
Duke capitalized on it’s good fortune and won the fifth set, 15-10.
“We showed signs of being a really good team tonight,” George said. “We need to stay more consistent.”Next up for the Spartans will be a trip out west to face No. 22 Oregon next Friday and Oregon State on Saturday.
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