Thursday, February 9, 2023

MSU volleyball shows resilience in 3-0 loss to Michigan during attendance record match

October 15, 2022

 MSU v. Michigan game held at the Breslin Center on October 14, 2022. The Spartans ultimately fell to the wolverines 3-0.

7,326.

That was the record-breaking number of fans in attendance at the Breslin Center during Michigan State volleyball’s match with rival Michigan.

The new record breaks the previous attendance of 6,838, set in 2016, by nearly 500.

Both teams put on a show for said crowd, competing from start to finish, fighting for the lead and proving the rivalry between the volleyball programs is very much alive.

Despite an impressive fight from the Spartans throughout the match, The Wolverines swept MSU, 3-0. 

Head Volleyball Coach Leah Johnson expressed her appreciation for the groundbreaking turnout. 

“At Michigan State we really love our fans, but I want them to know: we are just getting started,” Johnson said. “I can’t promise when, but I’m gonna do everything I can to make it worth it to come back every single time. That’s what I want them to feel, ‘that was fun, that’s exciting, this is a young team, I wanna keep watching.’”

Michigan State ended the match with 42 kills, 39 assists, 36 digs, 18 blocks and one ace.

Set 1

MSU came out of the gate strong to start the first set against its rivals from Ann Arbor. A kill from sophomore setter Julia Bishop put the Spartans on the board first.

Freshman middle back Nil Okur slammed the ball into Michigan’s side of the court for a hard kill, tying the game at 5-5.

The Spartans and Wolverines fought for control early in the first set, until Michigan started to pull away with the lead at the halfway point.

MSU struggled to keep up, trailing 17-12, but three back-to-back points from freshman outside hitter Selin Aslayan put MSU within two at 17-15 and forced UM to take a timeout. 

The Wolverines dominated late in set one and it was too much for the Spartans to overcome. Michigan won set one, 25-17. 

MSU’s leading scorers for set one were freshman outside hitter Maradith O’Gorman with three kills and Bishop with two of her own.

Set 2

The second set was by far the most competitive of the match. MSU carried its momentum from set one into set two and then some. 

A huge kill by sophomore outside hitter Aliyah Moore had MSU trailing Michigan, 4-3 early on.

Much like set one, the lead bounced back and forth between the rivals until Michigan pulled away with a four-point lead making the score 8-4. 

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Scoring efforts from Aslayan and Okur tied the set 13-13.

The Spartans and Wolverines were neck and neck for the remainder of the set, forcing both teams to play past the required 25 points.

MSU fought until the very end of set two, but couldn’t quite get the job done, falling to Michigan, 30-28.

Moore was the scoring star of set two with a whopping seven kills. O’Gorman followed with five kills of her own, while Aslayan had four.

Set 3

Following an intense second set, Michigan took the first point of set three, but a couple errors from the Wolverines gave the Spartans a 5-3 lead early on.

It looked as though MSU might pull away with the lead after a four-point lead, 9-5 after kills from O’Gorman and Moore, but three kills and an ace from the Wolverines tied the score at 9-9.

Whenever the Spartans took the lead for the reminder of the set, the Wolverines managed to keep up. There was a lot of back and forth between points nine and 14, before Michigan took a two-point lead at 15-13.

MSU came back to tie it at 17-17 thanks to two kills from Moore. A kill by graduate student setter Zoe Nunez tied the set at 20-20, sending Michigan into a timeout.

During the final stretch, Michigan put up three kills and an ace, which was ultimately the final blow to its in-state rival. Michigan took set three 25-22, sweeping MSU, 3-0. 

At the end of the match, Moore walked away with 12 kills and O’Gorman with 11, while Okur had seven and Aslayan had six. 

Nunez led the team in assists with 27. At the same time, junior libero Nalani Iosia led the team in digs with 13.

Continuing to improve as a young team

With 14 underclassmen on the team, Johnson said her players will continue to gain experience and confidence.

“Our defense plays hard, our offense I think, we lose ourselves,” Johnson said. “It’s experience and kind of trusting your game.”

Johnson said she is confident in her young team and its ability to focus on improving “week by week,” as opposed to getting caught up in what is to come further down the road.

“We don't talk about anything in a big scope,” Johnson said. “It’s just ‘What are we doing this week? What are we doing next week, and how do we manage that?’ So I think if we just keep things very in compartment, very small sample sizes, you can get better that way.”

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