EAST LANSING, Mich. – A program record 5,335 fans packed the Breslin Center to watch the 2008 Michigan State volleyball squad defeat No. 21 Michigan 3-1 (25-19, 15-25, 25-15) tonight. The mark broke the previous record set in 1996 against Texas A&M. Michigan State won its 10th-straight match to improve to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. It’s the first time since the 1996 season that the Spartans begin Big Ten play with a 2-0 record. Meanwhile, the Wolverines drop their first match of the season, falling to 13-1 overall and 1-1 in the league.
Opening the first set, the Spartans seemed to feed off of the crowd at Breslin, taking the first two points from their in-state rival. Freshman setter Natalie Emro (Wildwood, Mo.) spread the ball from pin to pin. At the 15-point mark, four Spartans had at least two kills, led by Vanessa King (Spring Lake, Mich.) who had four.
Continuing to attack from everywhere on the floor, MSU would build a five-point lead at 23-18. After a kill from Kyndra Abron (Livonia, Mich.), the Spartans would take the first set, 25-19. With the win, MSU has won the first set in every match this season.
Sophomore Megan Schatzle (Monroe, Mich.) paced the green and white with five kills in her second start of the season. King along with Abron and middle hitter Vineece Verdun (Bloomfield Heights, Mich.) pitched in four apiece. Emro would finish the set with 15 helpers, anchoring the Spartan attack.
The second set would go in favor of the Wolverines as they held MSU to a .108 hitting percentage. Michigan hit .324 while winning the set, 25-15. King added five more kills, moving her match-total to nine.
MSU rebounded in the third set and was able to build a seven-point lead at 16-9, forcing UM head coach Mark Rosen to use a time-out. Michigan would rebound, putting together a 4-0 run to cut into the MSU lead. The Spartans would rally from that point behind the play of Schatzle. Through three sets, Schatzle tallied a career best 10 kills, five of which came in the third, helping MSU to a 25-21 set win.
Through three sets, Emro had 39 assists while the MSU defense of Allyson Karaba (Muskegon, Mich.) Carli Weiler (Oak Lawn, Ill.) and Becca Zlabis (Wheaton, Ill.) combined for 34 of the Spartans 53 digs through three.
The Spartan attack and record-crowd would continue to overwhelm the Wolverines in the fourth set. MSU would build a 19-10 lead and not look back, winning the set 25-15.
Playing without their top attacker, sophomore Jenilee Rathje (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), the Spartans needed the rest of the front line to step up. King, seemed to take the responsibility on her own shoulders, finishing the game with a team-high 18 kills, six block assists and a .548 hitting percentage. Schatzle recorded a career-best 12 kills, and Emro had a team-leading 51 assists.
Michigan State travels to Bloomington, Ind. on Oct. 3 for a Big Ten match-up at 7 p.m.