EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State volleyball team (13-3, 2-2 Big Ten) closed out its first home weekend of the conference schedule with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-12) sweep of Iowa on Saturday, Oct. 1. Senior Jenilee Rathje once again paced the team for the second straight night in kills with 12. Tonight also marked the team’s second annual Pajama Night, as MSU wanted to bring awareness to childhood cancer with the match.

 

“This was a good win tonight for the team,” said MSU head coach Cathy George. “I thought the girls did a nice job rebounding tonight after a tough five-set loss last night. Any win at home is a big win, as victories on the road are tough to get. We need to have a solid week of practice next week, before we face Wisconsin and Minnesota. Kelsey (Kuipers) showed great improvement, and that was apparent tonight against Iowa. Jenilee (Rathje), once again, was a dominant force for us as she led the team in kills for the second straight night.”

 

MSU wanted to rebound strong after a tough defeat last night against Nebraska, and the Green and White certainly made a statement. After dropping the first two points to open the match, Michigan State rattled off three straight to gain its first lead of the match at 3-2. After the set once again was squared at four, MSU began to slowly pull away from the Hawkeyes. The Spartans pushed its initial lead to five with the score 9-4, as Iowa called the first timeout of the match. The Green and White remained in the driver’s seat with the Hawkeyes calling their second timeout of the set at 14-5. Michigan State posted a 10-point lead at 16-6. The Spartans remained strong for the remainder of the opening set as it closed it out at 25-14, the largest lead of the weekend. Senior Natalie Emro was joined by sophomore Kelsey Kuipers with a team-best four kills in the first set.

 

The Spartans remained in control of the match in set two. After being tied at two, Iowa made its first offensive move of the night as it held a lead of 6-2. Michigan State clawed back to tie the set back up at seven before it slowly began to create separation. The Spartans got the lead to two at 15-13 before the lead became five at 20-15, forcing Iowa to call its second timeout within three points of its first. The Green and White allowed the Hawkeyes to get back within one at 21-20 before closing out set two, 25-22, for the 2-0 match lead. Rathje led all individuals with seven kills during set two.

 

The Green and White looked to make a statement in the final set of the night. After getting out to the early 3-0 lead, Michigan State continued to push the tempo, as its lead grew to four at 7-3. Iowa was forced to call its first timeout of set two with the Spartans leading by six at 13-7. MSU remained strong offensive as its lead pushed to 10, as the Hawkeyes called their final timeout of the match at 19-9. The Green and White wrapped up set three for the sweep by a score of 25-12. Rathje and Kuipers both tallied four kills to close out the match.

 

Kuipers joined Rathje in double-digit kills with 10 kills on 11 attacks, while not committing a single attack error. Sophomore Kristen Kelsay once again led the squad in assists with her 19, while Emro chipped in 10 assists and five kills. Defensively, freshman Kori Moster was the backbone for the squad with her 11 digs, while Kuipers tallied a team-best two blocks at the net. Rathje narrowly had her second double-double in as many nights as she tallied seven digs.

 

Michigan State concludes its homestand next weekend when it hosts Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 7 and Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 8. Both matches next weekend are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday’s match will be covered by the Big Ten Digital Network at BTN.com, while both contests will have free audio streamed live at SpartanSportsNetwork.com.