The young Michigan State (12-4) volleyball team showed that they still have a lot to learn in their 3-0 loss against Penn State (10-3) Friday night.
The Spartans struggled in the first set as the Nittany Lions went on a 7-0 run to take a 12-3 lead. They were aggressive on both offense and defense leaving the Spartans no room for error. The Nittany Lions had a 39.1 hitting percentage in the first set while the Spartans were held to hitting just 4.5 percent. Another 6-0 run by the Nittany Lions late in the set led them to win 25-11.
The Spartans found an offensive push about halfway through the second set when they went on a 7-0 run to force the Nittany Lions into a timeout, led by Alyssa Chronowski with 4 kills. The effort was not enough, however, as the Nittany Lions answered back, taking the set 25-16.
“I feel like we were ready to come out,” said head coach Cathy George. “I think that right away we, in both games one and two, we went down several points and it kind of took us awhile to start getting back into our rhythm and they serve very well. We struggled a little bit and weren’t getting our offense flowing.”
The Spartans took their first lead of the game in the third set after an error by Nittany Lions’ freshman Jonni Parker, 11-10. They continued to push in the most contentious set of the night and tied the game at 24. While the Spartans had more energy in the third, they could not execute the finish. The Nittany Lions won the set 26-14 and took the game.
Chronowski, who won Spartan Invitational MVP last time the team was at home, led the Spartans with 10 kills and a 22.2 hitting percentage.
“I just tried to give a lot of energy,” said Chronowski. “I was jumping up and down and just trying to give the freshmen a lot of confidence and give them confidence in themselves and give them confidence in me too just to say ‘Hey, you can set me. I got this, I got this, I’ll put this away for you.’ Let them know I got their back and they can have mine as well so working together and just a lot of energy.”
There is a lot for the team to learn from this game, but senior outside hitter Maddie Haggerty’s message to her teammates was simple.
“I’m proud of this team,” said Haggerty. “We fight, but I think we need to start fighting earlier. I think we wait too long, but tomorrow’s a new day and I know that these girls are going to go home, get some rest and bounce back tomorrow and show that, you know, we can play Spartan volleyball and not let this one get down on us. But we’ll learn from it for sure.”
The Spartans will host Rutgers in the second game of the weekend tomorrow at 7 p.m.