Michigan State Volleyball went head-to-head against the Fighting Illini Friday night, falling 3-0 for their 12th consecutive loss. It was a hard-fought match on both ends of the net with all three sets being won by three points or less.
The Green and White came out of the woodwork swinging led by sophomore outside hitter Aliyah Moore, dishing out 13 kills. Moore took flight numerous times, spiking the ball on the other side of the net and firing up the Spartans next to her. In all matches played, she was leading the charge from above the clouds. Moore served to be a problem for the Fighting Illini despite the 3-0 loss.
“I thought she was very good early," first-year Head Coach Leah Johnson said. "She had ten kills through two sets. Illinois made some decent adjustments on her and we stopped finding the court and tried to do something once they made an adjustment. Different isn’t always wrong, just our different didn’t execute.”
Once Illinois started to keep track of Moore, they were able to capitalize offensively and defensively.
On the south side of the net, redshirt freshman setter Brooke Mosher matched Moore’s efforts, also displaying 13 kills for the Fighting Illini. Those who were in the Breslin Center sat and watched the unpredictable Illinois offense unfold.
Illinois took the first set 25-23, followed by another 25-23 victory and a 25-22 set to earn the sweep.
All the while, the Spartans introduced their new Veteran’s Day threads, featuring a camouflage colorway paying homage to those who served, and those still in the midst of serving. As halftime ensued, a new jumbotron video gave recognition to a new honorary seat in the Breslin Center lobby, giving respects to those in the armed forces who have not yet returned home.
The Spartans and the Fighting Illini meet again on Nov. 18 in Champaign for yet another Big Ten matchup. Going on 10-16 this year, the Spartans are looking to add to their winnings, especially with a revenge matchup as an away game.
Johnson awaits another opportunity to display a strong offensive effort once again. Though the loss hurt, she was proud of the performance.
“We never stopped fighting," Johnson said. "It was the most consistent three sets we’ve played to date. I’m excited about that, and we get to see them again on the road.”
Saturday, Nov. 12 vs. Northwestern
The Michigan State Volleyball team was finally able to break a 12-game losing streak Saturday night against the Northwestern Wildcats in a 3-0 sweep.
Moore and senior middle blocker Emma Monks were clear stars for the Spartans Saturday logging 11 kills each and .320 and .348 hitting percentages respectively.
Johnson praised Monks after the game for her career-high kills and her ability to attack the net and get blocks throughout the match.
“She only had three blocks (for points), but she blocked so many balls back to their side,” Johnson said. “(She) forced them to take swing after swing after swing.”
The first set started off slow for the Spartans, but a shift in point management and minimizing errors helped MSU dominate the final two sets.
“Each timeout, that's all I talked about — are you scoring for them or scoring for us?” Johnson said. “Once we started scoring for us, we climbed our way back, and then we were able to pull out that tight finish.”
Michigan State was able to freeze out star Northwestern outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara — keeping the senior to nine kills after scoring 21 just last night at Michigan and a career-high of 26 last weekend against Nebraska.
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The Spartans trailed the entirety of the first set until a kill by senior middle blocker Emma Monks gave the Spartans their 23rd point. From that point on they were able to stay ahead and effectively take the set 25-23.
Aliyah Moore led the team in the first with five kills and a .444 hitting percentage. Emma Monks was right behind Moore with four kills, a .273 hilling percentage and a block assist to give her 4.5 points in total.
Following every timeout on the floor, the Spartans were able to get a rhythm and dominate at the net — which eventually allowed them to narrowly defeat the Wildcats.
From start to finish, Michigan State dominated the second set.
The Spartans started the set on an 8-0 scoring run and did not let the Wildcats get closer than within three points at any point during the set.
Freshmen outside hitters Maradith O’Gorman and Evie Doezema led the team with three kills each in the second set with .000 and .111 hitting percentages respectively. O’Gorman also had a block assist for the Spartans.
The well-rounded set from MSU allowed them to take the second 25-16.
Much like set two, Michigan State dominated the third set.
The Spartans took the lead on their fourth point off a kill by graduate setter Zoe Nunez and did not look back.
Emma Monks was once again the standout player for MSU in the third and final set Saturday night. The senior had six kills and a .348 hitting percentage as well as two block assists to give her a seven-point set to round out her career-high night.
The team was able to hold Northwestern to just 14 points in the third and played their most well-rounded set of the match winning 25-14 and subsequently the match in a 3-0 sweep.
Michigan State will be on the road again next weekend to take on Illinois Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m.
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