Volleyball Stuns No. 12 USC
Spartans defeat Trojans in five-sets, 3-2.
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (1-0) opened the 2009 season in winning fashion, defeating No. 12 USC (0-1), 3-2, in its opening game of the 2009 MSU Showcase. Leading the way for MSU was sophomore Kyndra Abron (Livonia, Mich.), who led all attackers with a .571 attacking percentage on the day, with 14 kills.
"I was very pleased with the way our team came out to play today," said head coach Cathy George. "Now the test will be just how the team responds to this win tomorrow, as we look to close out the Showcase with two more games tomorrow."
After shaking the cobwebs off in the first set, falling 25-23, the Spartans rebounded in the second set to top the Trojans 27-25. Using the momentum to their advantage, MSU returned from intermission to take the third set in a convincing manner, 25-18. However, USC was unphased, living up to their No. 12 AVCA ranking, and took the fourth set, 25-22, to tie the match at two. In the fifth and deciding set, MSU used the 2,016 fans packed inside Jenison Field House to their advantage, as they took the final set, 15-9.
Â Coming into todayâ€™s match, the Spartans knew they would have their hands full with All-American Jessica Gysin leading the Trojan attack. After posting a .400 attacking percentage in the second set, MSU was able to hold Gysin to a .100 percentage the final three sets of the match.
Also contributing to the Spartan attack was redshirt sophomore Jenilee Rathje (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), who posted the first double-double (17 kills-11 digs) of the season. Showing why she was named a 2009 preseason All-Big Ten honoree, senior Vanessa King (Spring Lake, Mich.) added another 11 kills, for a .474 attacking percentage.
Sophomore Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) was able to quarterback the potent MSU attack as she was able to contribute 54 assists to the victorious effort. She effectively worked the ball enabling four Spartans to post double-digit kills.
"Being able to effectively work the ball around is something any offense needs in order to be effective. Natalie (Emro) showed great composure in these tough circumstances to quarterback the efficient offense today. In order for this offense to be effective, she needs to make sure that she works the ball around to several different attackers, not just one or two," added George.
Â Senior Mischelle Nelson (Naperville, Ill.) showed just how dimensional the Spartans can be, as she led all defenders with nine total blocks (2-7). Junior Allyson Karaba (Muskegon, Mich.) added 20 digs to lead the Spartan defense.
The Spartans will return to action tomorrow, Aug. 29, at 10:30 a.m., when they battle the Great Danes from Albany. MSU will be in action again on 7:30 p.m., as the Green and White will close out the MSU Showcase against North Carolina.
Also posting a win in Showcase action was UNC, defeating Albany in four-sets, 3-1. This was also the return home for East Lansing native, Heather Brooks, who led all Tar Heels with 15 kills.
Â As always, all Spartan volleyball home matches can be streamed live as the voice of the Spartans, John Kreger, provides live play-by-play at msuspartans.com