Michigan State Volleyball Starts the Season 3-0 and Captures the UCF Classic Title Over South Alabama

Michigan State

Volleyball Captures UCF Classic Title With 3-0 Win Over South Alabama

Rathje named tournament MVP.


ORLANDO, Fla. – The Michigan State volleyball team (3-0) wrapped up action on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the USC Classic with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-17) win over South Alabama. The victory marked MSU’s first tournament title of the season. Earning tournament MVP honors for the Green and White was senior Jenilee Rathje. Over the course of the weekend, Rathje tallied 39 kills, 4.33 kills per set, and 22 digs, 2.44 digs per set.


The Spartans claimed the first point the match with sophomore Alexis Mathews putting down a kill in the middle of the net. After being tied 1-1, MSU claimed the next five points to boast a 5-1 lead which was capped off by a second-touch kill by senior Natalie Emro from Rathje. South Alabama pulled within one at 8-7 before three consecutive kills from Rathje caused USA into its first timeout the match at 12-7. Two points later the Spartans capped off its 6-0 run to make it 14-7. Senior Kyndra Abron added another kill to make the score 19-11. The Jaguars began to make another run, however Abron and sophomore Kelsey Kuipers stopped it with a key block at 21-16. MSU added another block by Rathje and Mathews at 23-17 to bring USA into its second timeout. The Spartans wound up taking set one by a score of 25-18. Rathje led all players with five kills on the match.


MSU struggled in set two, dropping the opening point of the match. After the Green and White held a three-point lead at 6-3 following a kill from Abron, South Alabama pulled within one at 9-8. USA gained its first lead of the match after taking three straight from Michigan State, gaining an 11-9 advantage. MSU tied the set back up at 11 each before a kill from freshman Jazmine White brought the score to 14-12, bringing USA into its first timeout of the set. After sophomore Kirsten Kelsay aced the Jaguars to bring the set to 18-14, USA called its second timeout of set two. The Spartans responded by taking the final seven points to end the match at 25-14. Junior Gina Lang ended the set with a cross-court kill. Abron led MSU with five kills


MSU opened the final set with the first point of the set before holding a one-point lead at 3-2. The lead became 6-4 prior to a 3-1 run capped off by back-to-back points by Rathje with a kill and a block. South Alabama gained the lead at 11-10 before the Spartans took the next five points to cause a Jaguars timeout at 15-11. Following the break, MSU rattled off nine of 10 points for a 19-12 lead. The Green and White closed out the match with a 25-17 third set win. Rathje and Mathews each netted a team-best three kills.


Earning all-tournament honors for the Green and White was Emro and Weiler, along with Rathje. Over the course of the three-match tournament, Emro recorded 5.22 assists per set, 1.11 kills a set and 0.89 blocks per set. Weiler led all individuals this weekend with a team-best 5.56 digs per set along with a 0.44 service aces a set.


Rathje and Abron each led MSU against South Alabama with 10 kills each. Kelsay dished out a team-best 16 assists and recorded three service aces. Emro chipped in 13 assists along with five kills. Defensively, Weiler recorded her third-straight double digit dig effort with 17. Weiler also tallied two service aces. At the net, Abron led the team with four blocks while Mathews added three.


The Spartans return to action next weekend when they open their home schedule with the 2011 Spartan Showcase. Action begins for the Green and White at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2 against St. John’s.