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Michigan State volleyball falls short in season opener against Minnesota

January 23, 2021
<p>Graduate setter Audrey Alford (2) listens to Head Coach Cathy George during their game against Wisconsin on Oct. 25, 2019, at Jenison Fieldhouse. The Spartans fell to the Badgers, 0-3.</p>

Graduate setter Audrey Alford (2) listens to Head Coach Cathy George during their game against Wisconsin on Oct. 25, 2019, at Jenison Fieldhouse. The Spartans fell to the Badgers, 0-3.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Following an extended delay of their season, Michigan State volleyball began their season in Minneapolis, falling behind to the Golden Gophers in a three-set sweep. 

After finishing last season 15-15 and having the start of their season pushed back to the spring, the Spartans were ready to be back on the court and compete again in the green and white. 

The Spartans faced a tough matchup in their road season opener against No. 2 Minnesota, as previously Minnesota earned a 3-1 win over MSU in the 2019 season. 

With a heavy junior and senior presence, the Spartans’ maturity showed through in their first matchup of the 2021 season despite losing the series to the Gophers. 

Being neck and neck throughout the first match, MSU freshman Sarah Franklin led with seven of the ten Spartans’ kills halfway through the first match, tied 14-14, while senior Meredith Norris had six digs and one kill. The Gophers ended up pulling out the win late in the match, 25-18. Franklin led for the Spartans with seven kills in the opening frame, and Norris followed close behind with four kills and seven digs. 

The Spartans kept the early lead during the second matchup, 10-5 with a 4-0 run, an ace by senior Jamye Cox, a solo stuff by freshman Celia Cullen and another kill by Norris. The MSU lead grew to 16-9 with another 4-0 run, with an ace by Talia Edmonds and a block from Biamba Kabengele and Naya Gros. With a nail-biting ending, the Spartans fell short in the second set, 26-24.

With a 2-0 lead going into the third set, the Gophers ran a 7-2 early advantage as Michigan State errors were apparent against a pair of kills. The Spartans fell further behind as the Gophers carried a 14-5 lead and closed out the third set 25-16. 

The Spartans hope to keep the momentum alive tomorrow in their final matchup against Minnesota. The Spartans will compete in another matchup against Minnesota tomorrow on Jan. 24 at 4 p.m., followed by Michigan later in the week on Jan. 28 at Jenison Field House for their home opener.

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