Spartans extend winning streak with victory over Rutgers

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11-26-2022 | 2:00

Nov. 26 (Sat) / 2:00 PM

Iowa

EAST LANSING, Michigan – Michigan State volleyball extended its winning streak to two games Wednesday night as the Spartans avenged an early season loss to Rutgers in four sets, 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-20) . It marks the first time an MSU team has won back-to-back conference games since the shortened 2020 season.

The Spartans batted .305, a season-best in Big Ten play and the team’s best since a .475 performance against Oakland on Sept. 16, 2022. MSU started slowly by batting .214 in set one, but fell during the game better through. 382 in set three. Michigan State finished the game with more kills (55-51), assists (50-45), aces (7-6), digs (67-47) and blocks (15-7). A slew of Spartans made their way into the record books on Wednesday as the season drew to a close: freshman Maradith O’Gorman reached 10th all-time for homicides by a freshman at MSU with her 12 on Wednesday, passing All-American Dana Cooke (1993) with 247 kills for the season. O’Gorman is two kills from a tie for ninth place held by Naya Gros (249, 2018). Junior Nalani Iosia reached ninth place in the program’s history for a single season after her 20-dig performance against the Scarlet Knights. Iosia now has 441 digs in the season, passing Veronica Morales’ 1997 mark of 439. The 1,000 dig mark is approaching for Iosia, who is five away from that club. Fifth year Rebecka Poljan batted .600 and led the team with 15 kills on Wednesday. Poljan’s performance moved her to 10th all-time for Michigan State pass rate (.293) to pass Naya Gros (.290). Michigan State had four players achieve double-digit kills led by Poljan’s 15. O’Gorman had 12 for the Spartans, while senior Emma Monks and sophomore Aliyah Moore contributed 11 each. It marks the first time four Spartans were in double digits since the game against Chicago State on September 17, 2022. Poljan tied career highs in kills and blocks, leading with a match-high of eight blocks (2s, 6a). As a team, the Spartans had a season-best 15 blocks, the most by an MSU team since November 9, 2019, a 17-block performance against Northwestern. The middle pair of Poljan and Monks hit .469 for the game on 26 kills-3 errors-49 tries. Graduate Zoe Nunez scored her 11th double-double of the season and her sixth in the last seven games with 41 assists and 14 digs. Freshman Jayhlin Swain set a new career high on Wednesday night with 12. Also setting a new career high was freshman Evie Doezema who had four blocks (2s, 2a). After the Spartans tied the game early at 11-11, Rutgers used a 5-0 run to extend a 16-11 lead over MSU. Michigan State used a series of its own to get back into contention, scoring four straight runs from a timeout to trail 16-15. Teams went back and forth late before a 4-1 Scarlet Knight series put Rutgers on set point at 24-20. Michigan State tied in a second set that saw the Spartan bloc come to life. MSU had eight blocks in the second, while the Scarlet Knights hit just .093 in the set. The Spartans led by as many as five points late in set two, but a 5-1 Rutgers run made things interesting late after a Monks kill put MSU on the set point. Monks was the one to wrap things up for the Spartans, preventing a Rutgers comeback attempt, 25-23. Set three was all Spartan, as Michigan State used an 8-2 run to open a six-point lead at 12-6 midway through the set. A 4-0 Scarlet Knight run allowed Rutgers to claw back within two points, but MSU responded with a 9-2 run to take a late nine-point lead. Kills by Poljan, Nunez and Moore and an ace by Dozema saw the Spartans close the set 4-1. Poljan and Moore each stepped it up a notch in set four, recording five kills each in the set. The Spartans took a 7-6 lead and never looked back, extending the lead to a whopping six points late in the set. A late 4-1 Rutgers run made things interesting as the lead was cut to three, 21-18, but Michigan State got a few kills from Moore late to seal things. Rutgers was led by a 21-kill performance from Alissa Kinkela, who was joined by Taylor Humphreys (14 kills) in double digits. Lauren DeLo led the Scarlet Knights in assists with 19, while Alyssa Nayar came in with 16. Madyson Chitty had a team-high 14 digs and Megan Vernon had four blocks. Up Next: Michigan State wraps up the season on Saturday, November 26 against Iowa at 2 p.m. The Spartans host senior day at the Breslin Center, while the program celebrates the careers of Rebecka Poljan, Emma Monks and Zoe Nunez. MSU will attempt to finish the season on a three-game winning streak, something the program hasn’t done since 2017.

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