Spartan Volleyball Sweeps the Wolverines With Record Setting Attendance

Michigan State


With a great crowd the Spartans swept the season series with Michigan.  Photo courtesy of Matt Mitchell in the MSU SID office.
With a great crowd the Spartans swept the season series with Michigan. Photo courtesy of Matt Mitchell in the MSU SID office.

Volleyball Stuns No. 19 Michigan on a Record Setting Senior Night

MSU hands Wolverines first sweep since Nov. 22, 2006.


EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State volleyball team (14-16, 6-13 Big Ten) swept No. 19 Michigan on a very emotional Senior Night on Wednesday, Nov. 24 in the Breslin Center. It was the first 3-0 sweep over the Wolverines by MSU since Nov. 22, 2006, also the last time MSU held the “State Pride Flag”. Having a record performance at the net was red-shirt freshman Alexis Mathews (Detroit, Mich.) with 12 blocks and 10 kills, the first double-double of her career. Mathews is the first Spartan to amass 12 or more blocks in a three-set match.


“This was great way to send the seniors out at home,” said MSU head coach Cathy George. “We really stuck to our game plan for the majority of the match tonight. Even when we had the lights shut off, the match could have gone either way, but to grind out the rest of the set really made me proud. We need to carry on this momentum as we end the season on Friday at Northwestern.”


MSU came out firing in the first set, getting out to the early 2-0 lead. The Wolverines, however, rallied back to tie the set at two, and once more at four after MSU held a 4-2 lead. Michigan State once again went on the offensive as it pushed the lead to four at 9-5. After UM once again tied the set back up twice, MSU found itself with a 17-14 lead as the Wolverines called their first timeout of the set. Five points later, at 21-15, UM called its second timeout of the set in an attempt to slow the Spartan offense. The Green and White maintained a five point lead at 23-16 before four straight Michigan points forced MSU into its only timeout of the set at 23-20. The Spartans finally closed out the set at 25-21 after allowing the Wolverines to score one last point. Senior Megan Schatzle (Monroe, Mich.) led both teams with five kills on the set. Junior Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) dished out seven assists, while junior Becca Zlabis (Wheaton, Ill.) reeled in five digs. Mathews netted seven of her sets in the opening set alone.


Set two opened with the Spartans boasting a 2-1 lead early on. Michigan got out in front at 4-3 before MSU rallied to hold a 7-5 advantage. A 6-2 run in favor of the Wolverines put Michigan State on its heels at 13-9. The Green and White responded with its own 5-1 run to tie the set back up at 14. As Michigan attempted to pull away, the Spartans would not be far behind as they tied the set up at 16 before holding a 20-18 advantage. After the Wolverines pulled within one at 20-19, as the server attempted to put the ball in play, the lights in the arena went out, causing a blackout which lasted 25 minutes. Michigan State remained poised during the break as it eventually ended the set with a 25-23 set win.


With excitement in the arena, the Spartans were unable to get out front of UM as the Wolverines held a 5-2 lead in the opening moments of the third set. MSU responded with a 6-2 run to gain its first lead of the set at 8-7 as the Wolverines called a timeout. The Green and White pushed its lead to 12-9 before three straight UM points tied the set at 12. A 7-3 run in favor of Michigan State put it back in front at 19-16, causing the Wolverines to call a timeout. Michigan once again tied the set at 20 until the Spartans forced set point at 24-21. After the Wolverines pulled within one at 24-23, MSU called a timeout and then closed out the match at 25-23. Zlabis was the top offensive threat for the Spartans in the set with four kills. Both senior Nicole Peter (Ada, Mich.) and Emro recorded four assists in the set. Zlabis was joined by junior Carli Weiler (Oak Lawn, Ill.) with four digs. Mathews once again maintained the MSU blocking dominance over Michigan with two blocks.


With the win, MSU obtains the “State Pride Flag” for the first time since 2006. This marks the ninth different year the Spartans have been in possession of the flag. The flag is a state of Michigan flag bearing the motto “Tuebor” or “I will defend,” and serves as a symbol of the volleyball rivalry between the two schools. The flag flew over the State Capitol building on Sept. 18, 1990.


Recording her third-straight double-double was Schatzle with 10 kills and 10 digs. Zlabis was one kill shy of tallying her eighth double-double of the season as she tallied nine kills and 10 digs. Aside from leading the team in assists with 17, Emro also was second on the team with six blocks on the night. Zlabis was joined by Weiler from behind the service line with two aces each. Freshman Kristen Kelsay (Wheaton, Ill.) also tallied double-digit assists numbers for the 26th time this season with 13. Kelsay was also a dig away from netting her fourth double-double of the season, and third in as many matches with nine.


As a team, the Spartans out blocked Michigan, 14-7.5 and out served it five aces to two.


The crowd of 6,824 in attendance was the largest to ever attend a Spartan home volleyball match.


After a day off on Thursday, the Spartans will close out their 2010 season when they face Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. on Friday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. ET.