Michigan State fought valiantly in their final match of the season, dropping a 3-1 decision at Michigan (25-23, 25-27, 22-25, 23-25) on Saturday night in Ann Arbor.

It was Senior Night for the Wolverines, and the game was carried by determined seniors on both sides of the net.  Maddie Haggerty had 17 kills and a career-best 16 digs, while Michigan’s Carly Skjodt led her squad with 19 kills and 12 digs.

The fight was befitting a MSU-Michigan matchup in the final regular-season match of the year.  The largest lead by either team was a six-point edge for the Spartans in the second set, but most of the match was spent with one team leading by just two to three points.  Overall, there were 33 tie scores and 15 lead changes.  The Spartans took the first set by a 25-23 margin, with Michigan taking the final three by two, three, and two points.

MSU had more kills (61-59) blocks (14-11), and digs (59-56), but had 31 hitting errors on the night compared to just 23 for the home team.  The Spartans hit .188 compared to .237 for the Wolverines.

MSU placed four with double-digit kills. In addition to Haggerty,  Naya Gros had 13 kills, hit .360, and tied for the match high with seven blocks.  Molly Johnson also had seven blocks and compiled 10 kills and hit .348.  Alyssa Chronowski had 11 kills, and Jamye Cox delivered a match-best 20 digs.

The Spartans complete their season with a 17-16 record, and 5-15 in the Big Ten.  Michigan improves to 22-9, 11-9 in Conference play.

  QUOTABLE 
“When we looked ahead to this season, we knew that it would have its challenges, and it certainly did.  What I asked my team was to improve every day.  To fight, to battle.  You saw us do that tonight, and in every match this year.  Our team grew and matured, but also made mistakes.  Very few lessons are learned the easy way, but we will be better for this journey.”

  TOP PERFORMERS 
•    Maddie Haggerty had 17 kills and 16 digs for her ninth double-double of the season, and seventh in the last eight matches.  She added two aces and a solo block.
•    Naya Gros posted 13 kills and seven blocks, hitting a match-best .360 in addition to sharing the match lead in blocks .
•    Molly Johnson delivered 10 kills and hit .348, sharing the match lead with seven blocks.
•    Jamye Cox had 20 digs.

 STATS AND STORYLINES 
•    Haggerty finished her MSU career with her seventh double-double in the final nine matches, finishing with 17 kills (one shy of her career best) and a career-high 16 digs.
•    Molly Johnson’s seven blocks was her career best.
•    Rebecka Poljan posted nine kills and four blocks.
•    Elena Shklyar posted 35 assists and four digs, while her counterpart in the 6-2 Maggie Midgette posted 21 assists and also had four digs.

  GAME REPLAY 

•   SET ONE:  Three kills and three blocks (two each for (Johnson and Gros) helped MSU take a 6-4 lead.  Michigan rallied to take an 8-7 lead, but then committed back-to-back errors to put the Spartans back on top, and Poljan and Swartz followed with a block at the right pin to go up 10-8.  MSU led 11-10 after Poljan and Swartz put up another double block – UM was hitting .059 with six kills against five errors, all Spartan blocks.  On the other side, MSU had five each kills and blocks, with five errors.  Michigan used a 3-0 run to go up 13-11, getting a kill, a block, and a Spartan error to regain the lead.  MSU stayed within reach – UM’s lead never got above two; as Gros erased a 16-14 deficit with back-to-back kills, and then Haggerty and Crocker traded kills to get to 18-18.  UM scored the next two on a block and an MSU error, and the Spartans called time out to slow the momentum.  Glavenic tooled the block on the first play out of the break to take a three-point edge at 21-18, but a Haggerty kill followed by a service ace from the senior brought the Spartans back within a point. A kill by Poljan and a MSU error, followed by a Skojdt kill and another UM error put 23’s on the scoreboard.  On the next rally, a dig by Haggerty resulted in an overpass, and Glavenic was a bit too aggressive as her attempt sailed long and gave the Spartans set point.  UM called its second time out, and the Spartans took care of business out of the break as Chronowski put it down to take the set 25-23.  Haggerty, Gros, and Poljan all had four kills in the frame, and four players each had their hands on two blocks.  MSU and Michigan hit an identical .132;  Carly Skjodt had six kills to lead her team, while Glavinic had two kills and two blocks.  MSU out-blocked their hosts (5-3) and had 20 digs to 16 for UM.

•   SET TWO:  The second set started much like the first – the teams battling and trading points.  MSU put together a 5-0 run that allowed them to take a 12-7 lead.  The Spartans took their largest lead of the night at 17-11 on a 4-1 run, getting kills from Chronowski, Poljan , and Haggerty along with a service ace from the Spartan senior.  Michigan called time out, and came out of the break on a blistering 8-1 run to completely erase the deficit and pull ahead 19-18.  MSU called its second time out to try to halt the momentum, and immediately got a kill and a block from Chronowski, followed by a setting error by Mackenzi Welsh to re-establish a 21-20 lead.  It was a back and forth battle – Chronowski and Jones, then Gros and Skjodt.  MSU got to set point at 24-23, but Michigan fended it off to go up one at 25-24.  MSU countered to tie things at 25-all on a Haggerty kill, but Michigan’s senior Skjodt put her team up 26-25 and an MSU error gave the set to the Wolverines, 27-25  Haggerty had five kills and four digs for MSU, while Skjodt had five kills for the Wolverines.  Michigan compiled seven blocks in the frame, leading to MSUs 15-11-44 (.114) scoring line.  The Wolverines hit .257, including Skjodt’s 5-0-11.  Naya Gros also had four kills and three blocks in the set.

•   SET THREE:    Two-point edges and trading points continued into the third set, where they led (13-11) after a Gros kill, but Michigan scored four straight (two off Spartan errors)  to take a 15-13 advantage.  The Spartans called time out, and got consecutive kills from Chronowski, Haggerty, and Gros to re-take the lead.  Three straight points for the Wolverines followed, with two Jones kills sandwiched around a Welsh ace, to take the lead back at 18-16.  The Michigan lead went between two and three points, and got to set point at 24-21 on an error by MSU.  Naya Gros found the back right corner to fend off set point, but a service error by the Spartans once again gave the home team the set-winning point, 25-22.  Haggerty continued to carry the load for MSU with six kills and five digs, securing her seventh double-double in the last eight games.  Chronowski and Gros each had four kills and MSU hit a match-best .361 (19-6-36).  The Wolverines hit .429 (13-1-28), led by six kills from Jones.  Neither team had a block, and MSU had 13 digs to Michigan’s 10.

•   SET FOUR:    MSU took an early two-point lead, and that lead fluctuated between one and two points to 11-9, when Poljan and Johnson went back-to-back for a brief 12-9 lead.  The teams continued to trade points, as MSU’s lead went to 15-12 as Michigan called time out.  Maddie Haggerty’s service run continued, as MSU’s lead grew to four, 16-12.  Jones got the sideout for the Wolverines, but Haggerty came alive once again and maintained her team’s advantage.  Back-to-back kills by Skjodt and Crocker brought the Wolverines within two, but MSU stayed poised, even when the Wolverines pulled within one at 18-17.  Michigan got consecutive kills from Jones and Glavinic to tie things at 19, and then took a 20-19 edge on a kill by Skjodt.  UM took its largest lead (two) at 21-19, but the Spartans got back within a point with a pair of blocks by Johnson and Gros. With the Wolverines holding a 23-22 lead, Jones went down the left line to get to set point; Gros fended it off with a tool off the block, but the Wolverines went to the left back corner to seal the set 25-23 and the match 3-1.

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