Iowa City, Iowa -- Michigan State earned its first five-set win in three tries this season with a 3-2 victory at Iowa on Sunday afternoon. (25-15, 24-26, 23-25, 25-20, 15-3).
MSU is now 12-4 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes fall to 7-11 and 1-5 in Conference action.
The Sunday matinee in Iowa City wrapped up a stretch of eight of nine games over four weeks on the road for MSU, which has played one home game since Sept. 15. The Spartans started hot and faded a bit in the middle, letting the second and third sets slip away late before finishing off the fourth set with a 9-3 run and owning the fourth set with nine kills and three blocks in a 15-3 victory.
Michigan State got a season-best 24 kills with a .465 hitting percentage from Alyssa Chronowski, and 15 kills and eight digs from Meredith Norris. Molly Johnson had a career-best seven blocks as well.
MSU also got a 21-dig, eight-assist performance from libero Jamye Cox, and double-doubles from both of its setters. Audrey Alford had 28 assists and 15 digs, while Elena Shklyar had 22 assists and 13 digs.
Courtney Buzzerio had 17 kills for the Hawkeyes, while both Kyndra Hansen (13) and Blythe Reints (11) had double-digit kill efforts. Gabrielle Orr had a double-double with 40 assists and 12 digs.
The Spartans return home for four games over the next two weeks, starting with a Friday match against Rutgers at Jenison Field House at 7 pm.
• Alyssa Chronowski posted a season-best 24 kills, one shy of her career best, and hit a match-best .465.
• Meredith Norris posted 15 kills, two blocks (one solo) and eight digs.
• Both setters finished with double-doubles. Elena Shklyar delivered 22 assists and 13 digs, while Audrey Alford had 28 and 15.
"This has been a really, really long stretch of road games – tough road games – for our team, and it was really nice to see how we overcame the middle of the match to finish really, really strong. The schedule will eventually be in our favor with a lot of home games coming up later in the season for us, but I have liked a lot of what I have seen from our team as we've navigated this tough stretch. We still have a lot to work on and clean up in our game, but this was a great way to wrap up this stretch."
Head coach Cathy George
STATS & STORYLINES
• Iowa recorded 19 kills in the second set, tying the most for an opponent in a set this season.
• MSU snapped a two-match winning streak for the Hawkeyes in the series, who won both matchups of the teams in 2018.
• MSU tied its season best with 16 blocks, which it also accomplished in the season opener vs. Duke. The Spartans have had eight or more blocks in 13 of 15 matches this season and recorded it ninth double-digit blocking effort in 2019.
• Chronowski's previous season high in kills was 11 in the season opener vs. Duke. She was one short of her career best of 25, which came last year against Indiana.
• Rebecka Poljan had two solo blocks – her first two solo stuffs of the season. She finished the day with seven kills, hit .429, and added six blocks. Her fellow middle Naya Gros had a match-best eight blocks and added eight kills, hitting .300.
• Molly Johnson's seven blocks tied her career best, set as a freshman vs. Michigan. She added five kills and a pair of digs.
• Jamye Cox's 21 digs is her most in a Big Ten match this season, and her eight assists established a new career best in that category. She had three assists in the fifth set to help MSU to an early lead.
• SET ONE: The Hawkeyes took an early 5-3 lead, but gave it back to MSU on a service error and an ace by Jamye Cox. The teams stayed within a point of each other to a 9-9 deadlock, when Molly Johnson broke up a streak of six different players recording six kills. MSU took its first lead at 12-11, and reeled off three straight points on a Meredith Norris service run that included a block by Gros and Swartz and a kill by Chronowski. MSU was hitting .615 at that point of the set (9-1-13), and after an Iowa time out, the Hawkeyes were able to trim it down to one, 15-14. MSU got those points right back, getting a block from Poljan and Johnson, followed consecutvie kills by each player to push MSU's lead out to 19-14 and forcing the home team into its second time out. The halt in the action did nothing to stem the momentum on the MSU side of the net, as the Spartans rode a 9-1 run to a 25-15 set victory. Chronowski had five kills on seven swings in the opening frame for MSU, which hit 14-1-21 (.619), a season best for the Spartans in a set this season. Johnson followed with three kills and a pair of blocks, and Audrey Alford had nine of the squad's 14 assists. MSU out-blocked its host 4-1 and held Iowa to eight kills against eight errors.
• SET TWO: The Spartans raced out to a 5-0 advantage in the second set, fueled by a pair of blocks from the duo of Gros and Johnson. After an Iowa timeout, the Hawkeyes put together an 8-2 run to take their first lead of the set at 8-7, an went up by two at 13-11 on a 3-0 scoring run, and MSU called time out. Meredith Norris stopped the Iowa run at four with a dagger from the left side, and the deficit became one after a double hit by Iowa setter Gabrielle Orr. The Spartans tied it up at 17-17 on a kill by Chronowski, but a kill and an ace by Buzzerio followed by a Clayton kill allowed Iowa to pull back ahead by three, 20-17. Iowa got consecutive points out of MSU's second time out to make it a five-point lead for the home team, but a pair of Iowa errors followed by another kill from Chronowski trimmed the lead to two, and the Hawkeyes called time out. The Spartan junior went off the block again out of the break to get MSU within a point, and Johnson and Poljan teamed up with a block to tie things up at 22, then take the lead on a Poljan solo stuff, her third block of the frame. MSU got to set point at on a kill by Chronowski – her 10th of the match and fifth of the set – but Iowa battled back to take the next three points and earn a 26-24 set victory at tie the match at 1-1. MSU hit just .178, (13-5-45) with the unforced errors coming late. Buzzerio and Hansen had six kills each for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes posted 19 kills in the frame and hit .182.
• SET THREE: Iowa built a two-point edge early, and held on to that until the Spartans tied it up on a kill by Gros and a Iowa error that made it 10-10. Kyndra Hanson put down back-to-back kills to re-establish a two-point lead for her team, and a block by Orr and Clayton pushed it out to three, and MSU called time out. The Spartans got a pair of Chronowski kills sandwiched around a Poljan termination to trim the Iowa lead down to one at 15-14, and the home team called a time out. MSU rallied to tie things at 17-17, but Iowa was able to pull back ahead by two at 20-18. The teams were tied at 21, but Iowa got a kill and a block to go back up by a pair; Chronowski answered with her 16th and 17th kills of the match to tie things back up at 23-all. The Spartans committed back-to-back errors to give the set to the home team, allowing Iowa to take a 2-1 match lead. MSU hit .262 with seven kills from Chronowski, Gros adding four kills and a block. Iowa hit .227 but outblocked MSU 3-2.
• SET FOUR: MSU called time out after Iowa raced out to a 7-2 lead, and Meredith Norris trimmed it to a three-point deficit with a kill and an ace to make it 7-4. Cox stepped in and delivered a pair of service aces around a Chronowski kill to tie things up at 8-8, but Hanson stopped the 4-0 scoring run for MSU with a cross-court kill. MSU kept it going and pulled ahead 10-9 after Chronowski's 20th kill of the match. Iowa held a 17-16 lead before the Spartans mounted a 9-3 run to finish off the fourth with a 25-20 win, using two kills by Norris and two blocks by Gros in that run to pull the teams even 2-2 in the match.
• SET FIVE: MSU raced out to a 3-1 lead off a pair of kills by Chronowski, forcing Iowa into an early time out. Poljan made it 4-1 before Blythe Rients stopped the Spartan run, but a second kill from Poljan, one from Norris, and an error by Iowa made it a 7-2 Spartan advantage. Iowa called time out again at 10-2 to try to halt MSU's fifth-set surge, but MSU's lead moved out to 10 at 13-3 as the Spartans just kept coming and took the fifth set by a 15-3 margin. The Spartans had nine kills (9-0-13, .692) and two blocks in the final set, creating its own success and closing out the match with the emphatic victory in the final frame. Norris Chronowski, Gros, and Poljan each had two kills and Audrey Alford had four of her 15 digs.