Both the Michigan State Spartans (13-4) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-11) came into the volleyball match Saturday night with zero wins in the Big Ten. That changed for the Spartans as sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Chronowski led the team to a 3-1 win with a career-high 20 kills.
“I was put in really good situations by out setter and by our passing,” said Chronowski. “I definitely could have cut down errors, so I still have some management to do, but I’m pleased with our outcome and I’m glad that my team trusted me to put the ball up for me and I’m glad I got the kills.”
After lacking energy at the beginning of sets Friday against Penn State, the Spartans had the opposite problem in the first few set against Rutgers. The team came out with more aggressive energy that against the Nittany Lions, especially on offense as Alyssa Chronowski leading the Spartans with 4 kills. The Scarlet Knights then came back with a 5-0 run late in the set to take it, 25-18.
Chronowski led the Spartans with 7 kills in the second set as the energy was found, but faded once again as the Scarlet Knights went on a late 6-0 run to bring the score to 24-23. A big block by freshman middle blocker Naya Gros and Chronowski sealed the narrow win for the Spartans, 25-23.
“We let them back in, and we were like this is unacceptable,” said Chronowski. “This is not how Michigan State volleyball plays, so we looked at each other, kind of eyes locked and we were going to get this win, we are going to steal this game and we are not going to go to extra points and we were going to get it.”
The Spartans found their rhythm through the third set, hitting 57.1 percent while the Scarlet Knights hit just 29.2 percent. Chronowski’s energy and 3-straight kills led the team to rally, winning 25-18.
With the first point of the fourth set for the Spartans, Chronowski beat her career-high in kills with 20 on the game. It was evident that her teammates were feeding off of her energy with freshman middle blocker Rebecka Poljan getting the final kill and finishing with 10 kills. The Spartans won the final set, 25-17.
“I think coming off of yesterday like a tough loss, I think it was really important to just get back momentum swinging our way because we really needed that energy to get our first Big Ten win,” said Poljan.
“You need to be able to get wins wherever you can,” said head coach Cathy George. “You know we started off a little sluggish, but then I thought we kind of started pulling things together, got a little more aggressive in our serving game and it kind of helped us out as the match went on, get better and better looks for blocks and transition offense and other things.”
The Spartans will end their 4-game home stand next weekend as they take on Indiana Friday at 7 p.m. and Purdue Saturday at 7 p.m.