The Michigan State volleyball team completed the opening weekend of conference play with a statement, sweeping No. 1 Minnesota on its home floor, 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-22) to impreove to 9-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Minnesota is now 12-1 and 1-1 after one weekend of conference action.
The Spartans, who began Big Ten play with an upset of No. 5 Wisconsin on Friday, staged a remarkable comeback in the third set. Leading the match 2-0, the Green and White fell behind by nine, 16-7, by a fired-up Minnesota side, who looked to defend its home floor and push it to four sets. MSU then unleashed a 16-4 run, and finished off the match on a 18-6 run overall to take the 3-0 sweep in front of a capacity crowd at Maturi Pavilion.
True to form, the Spartans had a balanced attack with contributions from throughout its lineup. Autumn Bailey had her second consecutive double-double ith 14 kills and 13 digs, Brooke Kranda led the way with a match-best 15 kills and added three blocks, and and Holly Toliver had 10 kills, three blocks, and seven digs. Racnhel Minarick turned in her third double-double of the year with 43 assists and 10 digs.
Freshman Stephanie Samedy had 11 kills and hit .407 for the home team, while Alexhis Hart had seven kills. Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 32 assists, five digs, and four blocks. The loss snapped a 40-match winning streak at the Pav for the Gophers, dating back to 2014.
MSU fell behind by four early in the first set (7-3), but after a kill by Bailey to trim it to three and get the sideout, Holly Toliver stepped in and delivered three straight service aces to tie it up at 7-7. MSU began to pull away by using a pair of runs of four and six points respectively to take leads of 12-9 and 20-12.
The Gophers mounted a comeback with three straight kills to trim it down to five at 23-18, but MSU got a kill from Minarick and then used a UM error to take the first set, 25-18. Kranda and Bailey each had four killls, and Bailey added five digs. Kranda had a pair of aces to go along with three earlier from Toliver to give the Spartans five in the set. MSU hit .310 in the frame (17-4-42), and Minnesota hit .229 (11-3-35).
The teams played much closer in the second set, with the Spartans taking an early lead (4-2) and Minnesota holding a three-point edge at 11-8. MSU called its first time out at that point, and rallied for three straight points out of the break to knot it up at 11’s. Trading points back and forth, MSU fell behind by two (17-15) on a Gopher block followed by a hitting error at which point the Spartans called their second time out. MSU got the sideout out of the break, but the teams continued to trade points as they approached the 20-point mark.
The Gophers got there first, maintaining a two-point edge at 20-18, but MSU caught the Gophers at 21-all on a pair of swings by Bailey. The Spartans regained the lead at 22-21 on a slam by Minarick on an overpass, giving the visitors their first lead since 4-2.
A block by Tompkins and Bailey got MSU to set point at 24-21, but two straight MSU errors gave the Gophers some new life and allowed them to pull within striking distance at 24-23. Bailey sealed it for MSU with a kill from the left side, her 10th of the match, for a 2-0 Spartan lead. Through two sets, Bailey had the double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
Minnesota came out on a mission in the third, and used a pair of tools off the block along with two blocks of their own in building a five-point advantage (7-2) - their largest lead of the day. The crowd found new enthusiasm as the Gopher lead reached seven, then nine - at which point the Spartans called their second time out. MSU got back into it with a kill by Kranda, back-to-back blocks by Garvelink and Toliver, and then a Toliver termination that made it 16-11.
No one had a better weekend than the Spartans, who were unranked and got road wins at No. 5 Wisconsin and the top-ranked Gophers.— Jeff Sheldon (@OWHJeffSheldon) September 24, 2017
Four more points followed the first four - two on kills by Bailey, the eighth on an impresive dump by Toliver into the back corner - to pull MSU within a point and force the home team to call its second time out. A Samedy kill halted MSU’s run, but the Spartans were back in it. MSU used a 16-4 run, and got to match point at 24-20, but the tenacious Gophers twice fended off set point. Garvelinks line shot caught the corner, and completed the implausible comeback to sweep the No. 1 team on its home floor and hand the Gophers their first loss of the season
MSU returns to East Lansing for their first home matches since Sept. 2 next weekend. The Spartans welcome Maryland (Friday) and Ohio State (Saturday) to Jenison Field House.