East Lansing, Mich -- Michigan State earned a 3-0 victory over visiting North Carolina in a Sunday matinee at Jenison Field House. The Spartans are now 6-1 on the season through three weeks of non-conference play, and UNC falls to 1-6, with three of their losses coming to Big Ten squads.
The early part of the match looked like the teams would engage in a multiple-set dogfight – the teams were tied 11 times and the lead changed on nine occasions, but the Spartans took control in the second (despite identical 25-21 set scores in the first two frames) and then cruised in the third set to a 25-13 win to earn their sixth win in seven tries. MSU rebounded from a .121 hitting percentage in the opening frame to hit .212 in the second and .417 in the third, and out-blocked the Tar Heels 12-6.
Alyssa Chronowski led all scorers with 10 points, three blocks, and hit .333. Rebecka Poljan tied her career best with eight blocks and added seven kills and hit .500.
For the Tar Heels, Skylar Wine compiled eight kills and three blocks, with Skyy Howard adding three stuffs and five kills and Aristea Tontai producing three kills, three assists, and three blocks.
MSU now turns its attention to its final non-conference tournament of the season, when it will play three matches at the Western Michigan Invitational. MSU will play Auburn, IUPUI, and the host Broncos next weekend in Kalamazoo.
• Rebecka Poljan posted seven kills on 14 swings, hitting .500 and adding eight blocks.
• Alyssa Chronowski had 10 kills and hit .333, posting three blocks
• Jamye Cox had 11 digs and five assists.
“We started out pretty slow and kind of flat – we rebounded to work out those issues and got ourselves into a rhythm and work our way out of it. That’s a pretty important takeaway from today, because that’s a huge piece of being successful in the Big Ten, is learning how to work your way out of trouble and getting yourself back on track. We’ll get ready for our final non-conference matches next weekend, and the style of teams we will see next week are all different. It will be a good way to wrap up our non-conference schedule, testing ourselves against different styles and getting ready for a pretty challenging start to our Big Ten season where we play five of our first six on the road.”
• Head coach Cathy George
STATS & STORYLINES
• Poljan tied her career best with eight blocks and established a career high in block assists (8).
• Meredith Norris posted nine digs, five blocks and five kills. She set a career best in blocks and had her sixth match with 8+ digs this season
• The Spartans held UNC to an .046 hitting percentage, the third opponent that MSU has held under .100 this season and the fifth time an opponent hit .159 or less.
• Maggie Midgette had season bests with 11 assists and two digs.
• SET ONE: UNC picked up a trio of blocks early, which helped the visitors build a 7-5 lead. MSU got a pair of kills from Chronowski and a block by Poljan and Johnson to pull ahead 8-7, and the teams stayed within a point as UNC held a 14-13 lead, but a 4-0 run for the home team allowed the Spartans to take the largest lead of the set, and UNC called time out. The teams combined for 12 hitting errors (seven for MSU) to this point of the frame, and the Tar Heels had three service errors. MSU extended its lead out to 19-15, but UNC countered with kills from Carly Peck and Skylar Wine, an ace, and a Spartan error to tie things back up at 19-19. After an MSU time out, the Spartans got three straight kills from Poljan (twice) and Johnson to take a 22-19 edge, and held on to get a four-point win (25-21). Poljan compiled four kills – three late in the frame as the Spartans made their run – and both Chronowski and Molly Johnson had three. Jamye Cox had seven of MSU’s 17 digs in the set.
• SET TWO: The Tar Heels took a pair on early four-point lead (7-3 and 9-5), and the Spartans called a time out to regroup. A pair of aces by McLean and a Poljan/Norris stuff tied things up at 10-all, and with things tied at 14, Chronowski put up a kill and a block, followed by a Tar heel error, to make it a three-point edge for the home team. A big block by Poljan and Norris at the left pin gave MSU a 20-16 lead, and the Spartans held their four-point edge at 22-18. UNC came up with back-to-back kills to trim it to two, and the teams traded service errors to make it 23-21. Gros got a kill in the middle for set point, and Swartz went line to finish off the set 25-21. Poljan had four blocks and two kills, while Norris had three kills, four digs, and three blocks.
• SET THREE: The Spartans used a 5-1 run to turn a three-point lead (12-9) to a 17-10 edge, hitting a match-best .333 and continuing to hold the Tar Heels under .100. UNC trimmed it to five on an ace and a kill, but the home team kept pushing and extended its lead out to eight (20-12) and closed out the set on a 5-1 run from there. MSU hit .417 in the final frame, with Chronowski exploding late and posting six of her 10 kills and a pair of blocks. Poljan head three of her eight blocks and Cox had four digs.