East Lansing, Mich - Michigan State continued to fight back until the very last play, but despite their efforts, they were swept in their matchup against the Blue Devils.
MSU was able to keep each set close until the very end, losing by no more than five points in each set, and it seemed that there was a good chance at winning any of the three sets, but Duke was able to stay on top and win all three sets and ultimately the match.
During the first set, the Blue Devils took an early 6-3 lead thanks to Junior outside hitter Rachel Richardson and Graduate Student middle blocker Jess Robinson as they both combined for 7 kills in the first set.
MSU made a rally towards the end of the first set, scoring on four straight offensive attacks to bring the score to 22-19, but a kill by Robinson and then two straight aces from Sophomore outside hitter Kerry Keefe secured the first set for the Blue Devils, 25-19.
Although the second set wasn’t the closest of the three scoring-wise, it was the most intense set of them all. There were nine different tied scores during this set and four different lead changes as MSU did their best to stay right with the Blue Devils.
The Spartans had a stronger performance in the second set led by Senior libero Nalani Iosia who racked up seven digs and one ace in the second set. However, the Blue Devils were able to break away from the back-and-forth pattern of the second set and win it 25-22.
The Spartans were able to score first in the third set and for a moment it looked like they had some momentum coming into the third set. However, this would be their only lead until they once again led 13-12 later in the set.
Even after gaining another lead, the Blue Devils refused to give up and a combined 10 kills late in the set from Keefe and Graduate Student outside hitter Gracie Johnson would put the Spartans away as the Blue Devils took the third and final set 25-23, and ultimately sweep the Spartans.
Although it resulted in a loss, MSU had some strong performers throughout the match that helped keep the sets close. One to mention is junior outside hitter Aliyah Moore who had a strong performance posting 10 kills and a .500 hit percentage.
Another Key player for the Spartans in their match would be Iosia, who is just coming off winning B1G Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
Coach Johnson commented on Iosia's skill and talent as a player after being recognized with the honor. “She is a standout star and that is what we expect from her as a leader with very young teammates on the court with her,” Johnson said.
Coach Johnson also spoke on the total performance of the team, mentioning that she sees value in the last four games the Spartans have played.
“What I do value is that we took care of business last weekend and then we played really close and exciting ball in these sets,” Johnson said.
Michigan State is now 4-3 on the year after taking on a tough opponent from the ACC. They will take another team from the ACC, the North Carolina Tarheels, this Sunday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.
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