Spartans extend winning streak with victory over Rutgers

EAST LANSING, Mich. – 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 is the first time since the shortened 2020 season that an MSU team has won back-to-back conference games.

The Spartans hit .305, a season-best Big Ten game and the team’s best since a .475 performance against Oakland on Sept. 16, 2022. MSU started slowly in the first set with .214 but got better as the game went on and hit. 382 in the third set. Michigan State finished the match 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 neared its conclusion:

student in the first year Maradith O’Gorman rose to 10th all-time for kills by a freshman at MSU on Wednesday with her 12, overtaking All-American Dana Cooke (1993) with 247 kills for the season. O’Gorman is two kills away from a tie for ninth place held by Naya Gros (249, 2018).

Junior Nalani Iosia moved up to ninth place in program history for single-season digs after their 20-dig performance against the Scarlet Knights. Iosia now have 441 wins away from home this season, surpassing Veronica Morales’ mark of 439 in 1997. The 1,000-away milestone is edging closer for Iosia, who are five away from the club.

fifth year Rebekah Polyan hit .600 and led the team with 15 kills on Wednesday. Poljan’s performance put her in 10th place all-time to pass Naya Gros (.290).

Michigan State had four players who got double-digit kills, led by Poljan’s 15. O’Gorman had 12 for the Spartans while older Emma Monks and second graders Aliyah Moore each contributed 11. It’s the first time four Spartans have been in double figures since the game against Chicago State on Sept. 17, 2022. Poljan hit career-high kills and blocks, leading with a match high of eight blocks (2s, 6a). As a team, the Spartans had a best 15 blocks of the season, the most by an MSU team since November 9, 2019, a 17-block performance against Northwestern.

The middle pairing of Poljan and Monks hit .469 for the match on 26 kills, 3 errors and 49 tries.

graduate Zoe Nunez hit her 11th double-double of the season and sixth in her last seven games with 41 assists and 14 digs. student in the first year Jaylin Swain set a new career high at 12 on Wednesday night. Newcomer also found a new career high Evie Doezema who had four blocks (2s, 2a).

After the Spartans set up an early 11-11, Rutgers used a 5-0 run to put a 16-11 lead over MSU. Michigan State used a run of its own to get back into contention, scoring four straight points from a time-out to go 16-15 back. Teams went back and forth late before a 4-1 series from Scarlet Knight put Rutgers 24-20 on set point.

Michigan State tied things up in a second set that brought the Spartan bloc to life. MSU had eight blocks in the second when the Scarlet Knights hit just .093 in the set. The Spartans led by as much as five points late in the second set, but a 5-1 Rutgers run made things interesting late after a Monks kill brought MSU to set point. Monks was the one to end things for the Spartans, repelling a Rutgers comeback attempt 25-23.

The third set was all Spartans as Michigan State capitalized on an 8-2 run to open a six-point lead mid-set 12-6. With a 4-0 run from Scarlet Knight, Rutgers fought back to within two points, but MSU responded with a 9-2 run and a late nine-point lead. Kills from Poljan, Nunez and Moore and an ace from Doezema saw the Spartans finish the set 4-1.

Poljan and Moore each turned up a notch in the fourth set, each registering five kills in the set. The Spartans took a 7-6 lead and never looked back, extending the lead to as many as 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 grabbed two kills from Moore late on to seal things.

Rutgers was led by Alissa Kinkela with 21 kills, who was joined by Taylor Humphreys (14 kills) in double digits. Lauren DeLo led the Scarlet Knights with 19 assists while Alyssa Nayar contributed with 16 chips. Madyson Chitty had a team high of 14 digs and Megan Vernon had four blocks.

Next: Michigan State will wrap up its season against Iowa on Saturday, November 26 at 2:00 p.m. The Spartans will host a Seniors’ Day at the Breslin Center as the program celebrates the careers of Rebekah Polyan, Emma Monks and Zoe Nunez. MSU will be looking to end its season on a three-game winning streak, something the program hasn’t done since 2017.


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