In a hard fought match, Michigan State volleyball was swept 0-3 by No. 6 Wisconsin on Friday, moving the Spartans record to 13-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten.
As for the Badgers, this victory adds a win to their 9 game win streak and undefeated in-conference season. There was no question the Spartans entered Friday’s game as the underdog, but the green and white refused to give up the win too easily.
“I think we came into this match with a lot of energy, and we really wanted to go after it,” senior Samantha McLean said. “We knew it was going to be a tough challenge for us, but I think we started off really strong.”
McLean was right. The teams played neck and neck in the first set, with Michigan State matching the strength and physicality displayed by the Badger powerhouse.
Freshman Biamba Kabengele made two back-to-back dominating kills early in the set to give the Spartans the lead at 5-4. The Spartans worked off of each others energy, with four different players striking kills in their first seven points.
“We definitely tried something new putting some of our middles on the right sides and getting some of the younger kids in. It was definitely a great experience for them to get out on the court and realize what Big Ten volleyball is all about,” junior Meredith Norris said.
After falling behind 14-11, a Spartan timeout regrouped the squad, and they came back out with a scoring run that put them right back on the Badgers' heels at 14-13. The Badgers came back later in the set with a 7-1 run before taking the first set.
“I think we were definitely serve receiving pretty well in the first set. We were also distributing the ball, everyone was getting kills from each position,” Norris said.
Wisconsin showed a little more dominance in the second set before a kill by Norris put the Spartans back in the game at 9-10.
Shortly after, however, the Badgers took back control with a five point run that gave them a dominant 9-16 lead. The Spartans struggled to come back from their seven point deficit before the Badgers took the set 16-24.
“We took a breath when we didn't have that opportunity,” Norris said, saying that the team started to ''relax” and ''let some points go,” consequently hurting their performance as the match progressed.
Down 0-2 in the match, the Spartans were looking to bring back the energy they had in the first set to make a comeback, which they came close to.
Despite trailing early on when the Badgers took an early 6-1 lead, the Spartans turned on a switch. A strong kill by Norris, who led the team with 11 total, put the Spartans within two late in the set.
At 17-19, the set went back and forth until the Badgers regained their dominating momentum and took the win.
“I’m proud of how we fought, especially in that third game,” McLean said. “It didn't go the way we wanted it to, but we still fought and that’s why I’m proud of this team.”
The Spartans come back out on Sunday at Jenison Fieldhouse to play No. 7 Minnesota at noon.
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