Michigan State volleyball (11-1) knocked off Albany (4-6) in its first match of the Spartan Invitational — and first home game of the season — Friday night at Jenison Fieldhouse with a 3-0 sweep.
“I could tell you we played a little nervous,” said coach Cathy George. “I mean, there’s no doubt that you could see that out there a little bit. But as we went through the match, we started to work some of that out and I was really pleased with the fact that they came out and got back to what we needed to do.”
The Spartans drew first blood thanks to a kill by freshman middle blocker Rebecka Poljan. They jumped out to a 10-3 lead early on. However, Albany would narrow the gap, winning six of the next nine points to cut their deficit to just three. The Spartans were eventually able to pull away in the first set, winning by a score of 25-19.
The two teams went back and forth to start the second set, as Albany pulled out to a 7-6 lead, forcing George to call an early timeout to try and recollect her team. After the timeout, Albany would win four of the next five points, extending its lead to 11-8 — its largest point differential in the match.
However, the Spartans were able to rally back in the second set, and evened the score at 15 points. Soon after, MSU was able to pull ahead and take the second set by a score of 25-21.
“We’ve had that situation happen throughout the season so far,” George said. “And I like the way the way our team responds when they get down a little bit. They fire up and they get back after it and they just get more disciplined.”
MSU would build off its momentum in the third set, winning seven of the first 10 points to start off. The Spartans would cruise on to a 25-16 victory in the third set, finishing off their sweep of Albany and extending their winning streak to 11 games.
“Being a young team, that definitely gives us some confidence,” sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Chronowski said on the Spartans’ winning streak. “But we know they’re going to come at us and we’ve got even more competition in the first two weeks of Big Tens, but we’re excited."
Chronowski - who ranked in the top-20 in kills per set in the Big Ten going into Friday night with just over three per game — led the Spartan offense against Albany, finishing the night with 10 kills and 12 points.
The Spartans will return to the court Saturday morning for their second and third games of the Spartan Invitational. They are scheduled to take on UAB (8-4) at 11 a.m., and Western Michigan (9-3) at 7:30 p.m. at Jenison Fieldhouse.