Tuesday, June 22, 2021

MSU volleyball splits their series at Iowa, getting their first win in over a month

March 28, 2021
<p>Junior setter Elena Shklyar (12) prepares to serve the ball in the second set. The Spartans were shut out by the Nittany Lions, 3-0, on March 20, 2021. </p>

Junior setter Elena Shklyar (12) prepares to serve the ball in the second set. The Spartans were shut out by the Nittany Lions, 3-0, on March 20, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Friday’s match

MSU was able to win their first match since they beat Maryland on Feb. 13, but it didn’t start out pretty. 

MSU started the first set off with four straight errors, including a miscommunication and attack error on the first volley of the day. Errors were the theme for the first set, and as they went down 8-3, the free points they were giving Iowa were putting them behind much more than they should have been. MSU finished the first set with nine errors. 

As the set went on, MSU’s offense would wake up, but they would still drop the set 25-18. They also had trouble stopping the serves of Iowa, as the Hawkeyes finished the set with four aces.

The loss and sloppy play in the first set seemed to give MSU the scare they needed, and they came out and played much better in the second set. 

Lauren Swartz reached five kills as the Spartans would win the second set 25-22, tying the set wins 1-1. MSU’s offense woke up and reached 23 kills, just under their entire second match against Penn State. 

After winning their first set since they took a set from Wisconsin on Feb. 21, MSU was able to get the momentum they needed to finish out the day strong. 

The Spartans came out and won the third set, leading start to finish and giving them a lead of two sets to one. It seemed like the chemistry and rhythm issues were no more, and they shook off the rust after their long pause in play.

Alyssa Chronowski continued her stellar day, reaching 10 kills, while Swartz and Naya Gros both tallied seven kills each after the third set. 

The momentum would carry over to the fourth and final set as MSU secured their victory, winning the set 25-21 and winning the match 3-1. 

Chronowski, who has been the main offensive weapon during the absence of Sarah Franklin, reached 13 kills, while Gros put in a great effort as well with nine kills. 

MSU didn’t only find their rhythm offensively, but they cut down on service errors and played amazing defensively, getting 11 blocks and 57 digs on the day. 

While beating a team like Iowa, which is last in the conference, may not be a big deal to most teams, it had to feel good for MSU to get a win and finally get somewhat of a break from the tough schedule they have had to play this year. 

Saturday’s Match

After getting a much-needed win Friday, MSU failed to show up with the same kind of intensity on Saturday. The Spartans ended up getting swept 3-0 to an Iowa team who would not go down without a fight.

This time, MSU started out great in the first set, taking a quick 7-3 lead, getting two service aces early. 

Iowa’s offense began to outpace MSU’s, and before you knew it Iowa was up 21-16 on the Spartans, stemming from a 7-0 run. Iowa went on to win the first set 25-22, beating out MSU in kills with 18, while MSU was only able to get 11. 

In the second set, the Spartans' offense continued to struggle, as they dropped the set 25-22. MSU did their best late in the set as they went on a 4-0 run, but it was too late for them to get any momentum going. Meredith Norris was the sole bright spot in the MSU offense, reaching 8 kills. 

Iowa wasn’t necessarily dominating MSU with flashy plays and super aggressive kills, MSU just seemed to always be out of position, and Iowa took advantage, constantly going on 4-0 and 5-0 runs. 

This was exactly the case in the third set as a 7-1 run by Iowa put MSU down by too much to come back from, giving the Hawkeyes the set win 25-19 and the sweep of MSU.

Norris led the MSU offense with eight kills, but as a whole the Spartans had 36 kills and Iowa notched 44. With a difference in kills that wide, it is almost impossible to still win. 

MSU’s defense wasn’t awful, they did finish with 12 blocks, seven more than Iowa. The defense of the Spartans was just too inconsistent in spurts to win. MSU also ended the day with seven service errors, returning to the issue that has plagued them all season. 

On Saturday, it was almost like instead of building off a good day Friday, they snapped back to reality and played similar to how they’ve played in their losses this year. It seems like MSU might have overlooked the Hawkeyes going into the second match or maybe Iowa adjusted and took advantage of the Spartans’ struggles to score points. Regardless, MSU has to look past their day two lapse and look ahead to finish out the season strong.

MSU will return to East Lansing to play Rutgers in their final series of the season on April 2 and 3. 

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