The inability to win close sets came back to haunt the Spartans on Halloween night.
“There were moments where we were right in the game, there were opportunities to close things out,” head coach Cathy George said. “We gave up points in bunches, I thought Illinois groveled for a lot of balls.”
MSU (12-10 overall, 5-6 Big Ten) fell to No. 10 Illinois (17-5 overall, 9-2 Big Ten), 1-3 (21-25, 25-21, 22-25, 18-25) at Jenison Field House on Friday night. It was the third consecutive loss for the Spartans.
MSU was not able to cash in on sophomore outside hitter’s Chloe Reinig’s eight kills in the first set.
Reinig finished with a double-double, registering 16 kills and 10 digs. Reinig has had at least 10 kills in 11 of her last 12 matches.
The Spartans had a couple of 3-0 runs and even a 4-0 run to stave off set point, but it wasn’t enough. The Fighting Illini took the first set, 25-21.
Same score but different result in the second set.
Freshman setter Rachel Minarick’s three kills and three service aces, courtesy of senior defensive specialist Ryian Hubbard, pushed the Spartans over the top as they won the second set, 25-21.
Minarick totaled 38 assists, six kills and six digs.
The Fighting Illini used a 4-0 run to make the score 14-9 in the third set and pull away from the Spartans.
Like the first set, MSU made a late charge when Illinois was on set point but could not seal the deal. The Fighting Illini took the third set, 25-22.
The fourth set featured two tied scores and one lead change, but after a pair of MSU attack errors it was all Illinois, who took an 8-6 lead and never looked back. The Fighting Illini went on an 11-5 run from there to pad their lead.
Illinois won the fourth set, 25-22.
Northwestern (14-8 overall, 4-7 Big Ten) will be in town on Saturday night to take on MSU at Jenison Field House. First serve is set for 6:30p.m.
“We just kind of have to move on, Northwestern is a really good team,” senior middle blocker and team co-captain Jazmine White said.
Northwestern defeated Michigan on Friday night, 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 24-26, 25-18).
The Spartans were 2-0 against Northwestern last season, sweeping one match and winning the other in four sets.