Early in the match between Michigan State volleyball and Purdue Friday night at Jenison Fieldhouse, it appeared as if the rankings of the two teams were reversed, as the unranked Spartans dominated the fourteenth-ranked boilermakers in the first set.
Eventually the rankings held true, as Purdue took over, taking the next three sets and improving to 14-3 (3-3 in Big Ten) on the season, and relegating the Spartans to 14-5 (2-4).
Sophomore Alyssa Chronowski, who led MSU with 12 kills, set the tone early, earning four kills in the first set. After completing a 13-4 run en route to a 25-15 first set victory, the Spartans failed to harness that same energy for the remainder of the match.
“We came out full-force in the first game running off that Indiana match, but it kind of fell flat,” Chronowski said after the game.“We had to pounce on them quickly, but we held up in the second and third set.”
After holding the Boilermakers’ hitting percentage to zero percent in the first set, the Spartans’ initial surge ceded. Purdue took momentum in the match, converting 45.8 percent of their attacks in the second set, winning 25-12.
“They’re going to come back – that’s their job. That’s why they’re 14th in the nation,” Freshman Rebecka Poljan explained.
Being the young group that it is, MSU relied on emotion throughout the match, which provided a surge in the first set, but wasn't enough through the remaining three.
“We killed it the first set. In the second set, we let our youth take over and were a little inconsistent, and let our emotions get the best of us,” Poljan said.
Purdue continued to validate its No. 14 ranking early in the third set, jumping out on a quick 7-1 run, forcing the Spartans to take a timeout and commanding the momentum for the latter half of the match, taking the 3rd set 25-19.
“They started chipping away and we needed to be tightening up our discipline in different areas and we didn’t. We started letting it frustrate us and then we got sloppy,” coach Cathy George said.
The Spartans harnessed another wave of momentum as they surged with a 3-0 lead early in the fourth set. Leading by as many as four points in the set, MSU again let momentum slip, as Purdue eventually tied the set at 16 points and won 25-17.
“In the Big Ten, it’s just another day,” Poljan explained.
MSU will embark on a two-game road trip starting Friday, facing the Maryland Terrapins at College Park, and the Buckeyes of Ohio State on Sunday.