The Spartan volleyball team (5-3 overall) returned home on Sunday with one more loss and one more win after splitting two games in the Big Ten/Pac-12 challenge.
“We played two quality Pac-12 teams,” head coach Cathy George said. “I think there were areas where we grew and areas where we need to get sharper as a whole.”
On Friday night in Eugene, MSU lost to Oregon, 3-1 (25-22, 13-25, 15-25, 12-25).
MSU won a tight first set but could not muster any rhythm from that point on, dropping every subsequent set by at least ten points.
Oregon used an 11-3 run in the second set to give them an 18-7 lead. The Ducks were able to hold off the Spartans and win 25-13.
Down 12-10 in the third set, it looked as though a kill by sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig would spark a run for the Spartans, but that pretty much concluded MSU’s scoring in the set. Oregon took the third set 25-15.
The final set was a breeze for the Ducks, who never trailed and won the set 25-12. The 13-point margin was the largest deficit loss for MSU this year.
Oregon, ranked No. 18 as of Sunday, had more kills, more blocks and a higher kill percentage than the Spartans. MSU was ranked No. 23 as of Sunday. Oregon State also received four top-25 votes.
“Our pre-conference schedule has been very strong,” George said. “It prepares us for the Big Ten.”
Senior outside hitter Taylor Galloway had a team-high nine kills. Freshman setter Rachel Minarick had six kills, 14 assists and hit .462. Junior setter Halle Peterson had a season-high 16 assists.
“We used a lot of players on our team in various roles and felt we had solid contributions from them,” George said.
Saturday was a complete turnaround for the Spartans, who defeated Oregon State 3-1 (26-24, 24-26, 25-23, 25-21). The win gave MSU a 3-1 road record.
After 11 ties and three lead changes, the Spartans won the first set 26-24.
The final score in the second set was again 26-24 but this time it was the Beavers who won the set with a kill by redshirt senior outside hitter Laura Schaudt.
MSU held on to win the third set, 25-23. Reinig was an impact player, recording five of her career-high 20 kills in the third set.
The Spartans sealed the deal in the fourth set with a kill by Reinig. The win snapped a three game losing streak.
MSU hosts the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational next Friday and Saturday. The tournament will feature games against LIU Brooklyn, Western Kentucky and UW-Milwaukee.
“These teams had over 20 wins last year and return most of their starters,” George said.