Michigan State fought an epic five-set battle in a victory at No. 7 Purdue on Wednesday night, earning a 3-2 victory (25-16, 25-27, 25-23, 16-25, 15-10). The win was Cathy George's 300th at Michigan State, a memorable way for the mentor to celebrate a milestone victory.
The Spartans challenged the Boilers with a complete game — their passing was on point, their hitting errors were at a minimum and their serving was tough, as MSU held a bend-but-don't-break mentality. The Spartans earned first and third set victories, and came back with an impressive fifth-set effort after the Boilers closed out the fourth on a 9-0 run.
MSU rolled up a season-best 67 kills, winning the blocking battle 9-7 and delivering seven service aces.
The Spartans had several players with career bests — Sarah Franklin tied her career best with 25 kills, while Cecilee Max-Brown had a double-double with 17 terminations, 18 digs (both career highs). MSU hit its season-best in B1G games (.312), with three players hitting .300 or better — Max-Brown hit .324, Franklin .379, and Naya Gros had 10 kills and hit .471.
MSU held Purdue to a .208 hitting percentage on the night, and hit .350 in the final frame after the Boilers forced the fifth set. MSU improves to 9-9, 2-7 in Big Ten play and snapping a five-match skid, four of those losses coming to top-12 competition (Nebraska, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Purdue is now 14-4, 6-3 B1G.
Michigan State remains on the road this weekend, traveling to Maryland on Saturday to wrap up the week of competition.
Cecilee Max-Brown had her fourth double-double of the season with her career best in kills (17) and digs (18) and she also hit .324.
Sarah Franklin totaled 25 kills (tying her career best) and hit .379.
Naya Gros contributed 10 kills, hit a match-best .471, and had four blocks.
Stats and storylines
Cathy George earned her 300th victory at Michigan State, in her 17th season at MSU. She is 300-224 in her Spartan career and is 665-448 in her 35th season overall.
Franklin had her fourth 20-kill match of the season, three of which have come in Big Ten contests.
MSU ran a 6-2, with sophomore Celia Cullen posting 27 assists and four blocks, and freshman Julia Bishop contributing 28 assists along with eight digs an a pair of aces.
The Spartans had a season-best 67 kills, bettering the 58 they had in their most recent match against Maryland.
Set one: The teams battled point-for-point in the early going, and reached the first milestone of the set tied 10-10. Monks had a big block and a kill to push MSU's lead out to three at 13-10, and saw the home team call a time out at 15-12. Out of the break, a Kabengele ace and a Purdue error pushed the Spartan lead out to five, and the Boilers called another TO to try to regroup. MSU's advantage grew to seven at 20-13, as the squad was playing fearlessly amassing 12 kills (.393) with three blocks and a pair of aces and limiting their hosts to a .143 hitting percentage. MSU never let its foot off the gas, closing out the set with a 25-16 victory. Sarah Franklin and Naya Gros each had four kills as the Spartans hit .400 (14-1-33) with three blocks and three service aces. Purdue hit just .121 (11-7-33).
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Set two: The teams were within a point to seven, and then a 4-1 run for the home team made it an 11-7 lead, and the Spartans called time out. As MSU did in the first, Purdue built its lead on its own offense and defense — seven kills and a pair of blocks allowed for the four-point advantage. The Boilers led by as many as six, but the Spartans kept whittling away and tied things at 18, and took a one-point lead at 19-18 on a service ace by Bishop. MSU scored three of the next five to go up 22-20, forcing the Boilers to call a time out after a Kabengele kill and a hitting error that allowed the Spartans to go up by a pair. Purdue tied things up at 22-all but then gave MSU the sideout on a service error, and with the teams tied at 23-all, Franklin put down a sharp-angle shot to get to set point, and then at 24-24 Max-Brown went line — but both times, the Boilers countered with a big kill. An MSU error put Purdue at set point at 26-25, and a block at the right pin gave the home team the first set win. Purdue hit .182 to close out the set victory, while MSU hit .225 (15-6-40), led by Franklin and Max-Brown with four kills each. Max-Brown added six digs.
Set three: With seven kills on their first 10 swings, MSU built a two-point lead (10-8), and despite the home team battling back to tie things up three times, MSU led 15-13 at the media time out. MSU was generating all its own offense — the Spartans had 11 kills without an error (.579). MSU won the race to 20 on a kill by Franklin, but Purdue scored the next two to cut the Spartan lead down to two at 20-18. The Spartans took the momentum right back with consecutive kills from Monks and Kabengele, and Purdue called a time out with MSU leading 22-18. Both teams were performing at a high level — Purdue was hitting .344 I (16-5-32) in the set, but the Spartans were flying high on a .630 (17-0-27) performance when they called time out leading 22-20. MSU took a 24-21 lead on a Franklin kill, but the home team scored the next two to pull within a point. A smart roll shot by Franklin over the block closed it out, giving MSU the 2-1 match lead. Franklin led MSU with seven kills on 12 swings without an error, guiding her team to a .576 hitting effort in the set (20-1-33). Max-Brown had eight digs to go with her six kills. Purdue hit ..361 (18-5-36) — an effort that would have convincingly won many a set.
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Set four: Both teams continued with big, heavy swings into the fourth set, with the home team leading by as many as three (8-5) before MSU came within one after a block by Monks and Franklin and an ace by Max-Brown. The two squads were tied at 11 and again at 16, which is when the Boilers went on a 9-0 run to close out the set with a 25-16 win. Franklin had six more terminations to push her over the 20- kill mark. The Spartans had seven errors — one less than it had in the first three sets combined — hitting just .059 compared to .222 for the Boilers.
Set five: The teams were tied at 5-5 before back-to-back kills by the home team allowed them to pull ahead by a pair. MSU got a big kill from Gros followed by a Franklin ace to tie it, and MSU held a lead at the media time out on a Purdue error. The Spartans got a big momentum shift when an 8-8 tie became a 9-7 lead on a challenged out-of-bounds call, and Gros picked up her 10th kill on the slide to make it 10-7. The Spartans held the three-point lead to 13-10 and got to match point on a Boiler error, forcing the Boiler time out. The home team committed a second straight error out of the hiatus, and Franklin went off the block and out of bounds to earn the win. The sophomore added four kills on nine sings in the final frame to tie her career best with 25 kills.