Michigan State posted a 3-0 victory over host Fairfield (25-20, 25-17, 25-22) for its seventh consecutive victory. The Friday night match improved MSU’s record to 7-1 overall, while Fairfield falls to 1-6 on the year.
Alyssa Chronowski led MSU with 12 kills, while Naya Groshad five blocks (two solo) and had a perfect seven kills on seven swings. Elena Shklyar had 29 assists, four digs, three blocks, and two each kills and aces.
The Stags, MSUs NCAA first-round opponent in 2016, have won three consecutive MAAC titles and boast a seasoned crew. They pushed MSU at times, leading by as many as three points and there were six lead changes in the match. Fairfield was led by Mayda Garcia and Laura Seeger who posted 10 kills each. Seeger added a pair of blocks to share her team lead.
Michigan State has two more games in the Fairfield Invitational on Saturday. It opens with a 10am match vs. Harvard, followed by a 5:30 contest against Central Connecticut State.
“I expected a lot out of our team tonight after I thought we got a little sloppy in our early match. We had to battle in this one – that’s a team that has been to three straight NCAA Tournaments. I was happy to see how we responded after this morning’s match, and the way we have continued to show poise in the late parts of matches and not letting things get out of hand. This is a rough tournament for us – four games in 28 hours or so is going to be a grind, but I expect us to come out and be poised tomorrow as we face a team in Harvard that rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win today.”
– Head Coach Cathy George
• Alyssa Chronowski had 12 kills and hit .273 in the match, adding three aces and a pair of blocks (one solo)
• Elena Shklyar posted 28 assists, adding three blocks, four digs, and three service aces.
• Naya Gros was a perfect 7-0-7 (1.000) and added five blocks.
STATS AND STORYLINES
• Michigan State had 11 service aces in the game, its third game this season with double-digit service aces. The season-best of 13 came vs. Chattanooga on Aug. 25.
• MSU hit .247 in the match, overcoming early hitting woes that left them with a .111 (12-8-36) hitting percentage in the opening frame.
• The Spartans out-blocked their opponent 9-4.
• Meredith Norris came off the bench to hit .833 (5-0-6) and add four digs.
• Lauryn Gibbs had a career-best three aces.
• SET ONE: The home team jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead,. The Spartans climbed back into it quickly, using a 5-2 run to make it 9-7. Chronowski had five of the first seven kills for MSU, but the Spartans had six errors against seven kills as the Stags maintained a three-point edge at 14-11. MSU used a 4-1 run – a kill from Haggerty, a solo block by Gros, and a dump by the setter Shklyar – to tie the set up at 15-15, and Fairfield called its first time out. MSU’s assault continued, as a back-row swing by Chronowski, an ace by freshman Lauryn Gibbs, and a block from Haggerty and Gros gave the Spartans their largest lead at 18-15 – and forced the home team into its second and final time out. The Stags got two points back out of the break, but MSU pushed its edge to 22-18 after Gros picked up her third block and Haggerty delivered an ace from the service line. Chronowski got MSU to set point with her seventh kill of the frame, and MSU closed it out 25-20 after an error by the Stags. Chronowski hit .429 to help MSU overcome early hitting woes, while Gros had three blocks (one solo).
• SET TWO: Michigan State made adjustments after a poor hitting percentage in the first half of the opening frame, and built a 8-5 lead on two Haggerty aces and six kills. The Spartans dominated both from the service line as well as at the net, at the net, posting two blocks and making things difficult for the Stags to get anything going. After the Stags called time out at 12-8, a Fairfield error was followed by a pair of aces from Shklyar, giving MSU its largest lead at 15-9. The Spartans grew that lead to eight points (20-11), then nine, (22-13). MSU once again got to set point on a Chronowski killand Meredith Norris finished it off with a cross-court shot into the back right corner to take a 2-0 match lead. The Spartans hit .455 (13-3-22) in the set, and added four aces and two blocks.
• SET THREE: With MSU trailing 7-5, Chronowski served up three straight aces to give the Spartans an 8-7 lead. Gros annihilated an overpass to give MSU an 11-9 edge, at which point the home team called its first time out. Out of the break, Gibbs joined the ace party – MSU’s 10th of the match. In a 15-12 hole, Fairfield battled back to take a 16-15 lead on a pair of MSU errors and kills by Mayda Garcia and Nora Quinn. The Green and White called time out to regroup from the 4-0 run by the home team. Fairfield had a three-point edge at 22-19, but MSU stormed back with a 3-0 run capped another ace by Gibbs to tie it at 22-22. Out of the break, Gros and Shklyar teamed up on a block, followed by a thundering termination from Gros on the next rally to get the Spartans to match point, 24-22. Shklyar went to Norris at the left pin to close it out, and MSU took the 3-0 match victory.
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