It was another tough-luck Spartan loss on Sunday afternoon.
MSU (13-12 overall, 6-8 Big Ten) could not slow down white-hot No. 4 Wisconsin (22-2 overall, 13-1 Big Ten) at Jenison Field House, losing in straight sets, 3-0 (23-25, 19-25, 22-25).
“Just another disappointing day, I really want to stop having those,” sophomore outside hitter Chloe Reinig said. “I thought we came out strong and we had them down and then we kind of just shot ourselves in the foot, we really got to stop doing that.”
MSU held its own early and often against the Badgers, which was a stark contrast to their lackluster performance on Friday night against Minnesota. The Gophers defeated the Spartans in four sets to open the weekend.
The Spartans were in position to win the first set, but back-to-back service errors by MSU when the score was tied at 21 was enough to give Wisconsin the edge. The Badgers won the opening set, 25-23.
Wisconsin took control in the second set, jumping out to a 6-2 lead courtesy of a couple of MSU service errors.
“We had opportunities to close things out and we just made some unforced errors,” head coach Cathy George said. “It’s been a little bit of an Achilles’ heel for us.”
Service errors were catastrophic for MSU, who gave away nine points compared to the Badgers’ four.
“We had a lot of dumb errors today,” Reinig said after finishing the contest with a game-high 15 kills.
If it wasn’t for the errors, MSU might have had a chance at an upset. The Spartans were able to hit at a .330 clip, which is the best percentage a team has had against the Badgers all season.
Despite a 4-0 run when Wisconsin was on match point, MSU could not get over the hump. MSU dropped the second set, 19-25.
The Spartans found their rhythm momentarily in the third set, compiling separate 5-0 runs to take a 15-10 lead but it would not be enough.
Wisconsin went on an 8-2 run of its own en route to a 25-22, set victory.
“I thought the fight was there,” sophomore middle blocker Autumn Christenson said. “We just really needed to execute.”
Christenson finished with 7 kills and a .385 hitting percentage.
The Spartans will travel to No. 13 Nebraska (16-7 overall, 10-4 Big Ten) for a matchup against the Cornhuskers on Wednesday night.
In the last matchup between the two teams in mid-October, Nebraska defeated MSU in four sets, 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 25-23).