After suffering their first loss of the season against Tennessee last weekend, the Spartans came back this week with a clean sweep over in-state rival Oakland (4-4) on Thursday.
The first set started slow with Oakland taking an early lead at 2-4. However, powerful plays by sophomore middle back Naya Gros and back-to-back service aces by junior outside hitter Meredith Norris propelled the Spartans on a 4-point run, putting them up 8-5.
The Golden Grizzlies proved error-prone in the first set, stacking up six attack errors in total. And with several stand out Spartan blocks throughout the game, Oakland tailed behind for the remainder of the set until a kill by sophomore middle back Rebecka Poljan ended the set at 25-18.
The second set proved to be a constant back-and-forth affair between the Spartans and Golden Grizzlies.
With the green and white down by one, an ace by Poljan put the Spartans back at 18-18. The set continued to go back and forth until a kill by sophomore Elena Shklyar made the crowd go wild and put the Spartans in place for a match point at 24-23.
However, the Spartan’s were not able to take the set just yet. An error by freshman outside hitter Biamba Kabengele tied the game up at 24-24 once again, but another error on the Golden Grizzlies' side put the Spartans back on top 25-24.
To secure the win by a lead of two points, an electric crowd cheered as an ace by Chronowski secured the neck-to-neck win for the Spartans 26-24.
After the match, Head Coach Cathy George praised her team for not giving up.
“I was glad that in Game 2 they didn’t just give into that (Oakland). They fought and they closed that game out instead of giving Oakland a game, so I thought that was really good for us to show that and fight through that,” George said.
“We got to come in here and play our game. We cannot expect any team to just hand it to us,” junior Alyssa Chronowski said.
Coming back on the court for the third set, the Spartan’s looked much stronger and came out with a 4-point run, putting them up 4-0. Continuing off of this energy the Spartans claimed a dominant early lead at 7-3.
It wasn’t long however, before Oakland crept up to tie the set up at 9-9 but strong kills by Norris and Gros regained the Spartan lead, putting the set at 22-13.
With the match point waiting to be scored, Chronowski came out with her second game-ending kill of the match, ending the set at 25-17 and the match at 3-0.
“Oakland is a really respectful team and its only going to get harder and harder as we go so execution now is huge. I think we had a lot of errors tonight but we are going to watch some film and get better for North Carolina,” Chronowski said.
This win over the Golden Grizzlies puts the Spartans at 5-1 on their season. The green and white return to Jenison Fieldhouse on Sunday to face off against the North Carolina Tar Heels at 1 p.m.
“Definitely a big team win for us. We just got to work hard throughout these next couple days and prepare for UNC,” Norris said.
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