Saturday, July 24, 2021

MSU volleyball inches closer to win column in 5-set loss against Ohio State

February 1, 2021
<p>Sophomore Cecilee Max-Brown returns the ball back over the net, during the Spartans&#x27; loss to Ohio State on Jan. 31.</p>

Sophomore Cecilee Max-Brown returns the ball back over the net, during the Spartans' loss to Ohio State on Jan. 31.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Following their loss to Minnesota last week, the Spartans faced the Buckeyes for the second day of the series. Yesterday, in a 3-0 sweep, Ohio State dominated MSU. The Spartans made adjustments from yesterday’s matchup, winning two of the five sets, but eventually fell short to OSU in the final set and fell 3-2 against the Buckeyes.

"Obviously, it was a better match than yesterday, so that was a step up," MSU head coach Cathy George said postgame.

Following yesterday’s loss to Ohio State, George made adjustments to the rotation in order to throw off OSU’s strategy coming into the next day of matchups. 

The starting lineup for the green and white included outside hitters Sarah Franklin, Cecilee Max-Brown and Meredith Norris. Middle blockers Naya Gros and Rebecka Poljan started, as well as setter Celia Cullen and libero Jamye Fox. 

The energy on the court before the match even started was intense from the Spartans. They were ready to take their first win against Ohio State and as the Spartans took the first point with a service ace, their momentum was high. 

During the first set, MSU started strong out the gate and kept toe and toe with the Buckeyes. The Spartans’ lead grew 9-6 as their momentum stayed intact, but eventually, the Buckeyes closed the advantage tied 10-10. The Buckeyes took the lead back 15-13 triggering the media timeout. 

After spending much of the setback and forth with the lead switching between the Spartans and the Buckeyes, OSU eventually took the first match, 25-22. 

With 12 total attempts and six of those being kills, Franklin was a standout player during the first set. Other standout performances include Poljan, Gros and Max-Brown with three and two kills each, respectively. 

MSU’s hitting percentage was a solid .282 during the first match, their best in a set this season so far. 

With only losing by a couple of points in the first set, the Spartans kept their momentum alive going into the second. 

The Buckeyes started to feel the pressure from the green and white as MSU’s lead grew 9-5 into the second match. With a 6-0 service run from Talia Edmonds, the Spartans took their biggest lead against OSU so far, pushing them to call a timeout. 

About halfway through the set, MSU held the advantage 17-14 after multiple instances of back and forth with the Buckeyes. MSU won the race to 20, forcing Ohio State to call a timeout and kept their lead after, 22-17. 

With George challenging a play, involving asking the officials to look for a touch, the call stood and MSU led 23-18. The Spartans kept the lead until the finish line, winning their first set of the season 25-20. 

"It felt great," Franklin said in a post-game interview regarding their first set win. "I think as a team, we were able to come together and kind of bravo through that, especially with that new rotation that we have."

For the third set against the Buckeyes, the Spartans were focused and coordinated. MSU kept the lead as Ohio State called a timeout, Spartans up with a 10-5 advantage. 

With their highest hitting percentage of the season and holding a 15-9 advantage, Franklin picked up her 12th and 13th kills of the season, keeping the Spartan energy alive on the court. 

The Spartans won the race to 20, with a five-point advantage over the Buckeyes. In the final volleys of the match, Franklin scored her first double-double of the season with a .353 hitting percentage. MSU took the third set 25-18 and entered the fourth set with a 2-1 advantage. 

Entering the fourth set, the Buckeyes started off strong with a 6-0 run on MSU. MSU eventually called a time out with a large deficit, 5-11 OSU. With the lowest hitting percentage of today’s sets (.114), the Spartans fell to the Buckeyes 13-25 and played a fifth and final set. 

Entering their first fifth-set game of the season, the Spartan's energy was radiating as they had a fighting chance against the Buckeyes. After being neck and neck, OSU controlled a 4-2 run and put them in the lead 12-9. The Spartans fell short during the tail end of the match, 10-15. 

"We didn't terminate as much as we needed to yesterday, we started terminating a little more today," George said in a post-game interview. "We got to continue to find what our offense can do."

"We've capitalized when we can," George said.

The Spartans will next face off against Maryland Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 and 13 in College Park, Maryland. The Terrapins are winless on the season as both teams will compete to get their first win of the season.

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