The Michigan State Spartans volleyball team began its 2021 spring season on Saturday with a two-game weekend series at Minnesota. The changes to the schedule this year, besides a delayed start to the season from its usual fall occurrence, also include matches will be a two-game series over two days whereas prior it would only be standard for one game against a single opponent at a time.
As for their own season opener to start the 2021 campaign, the Spartans were swept 3-0 in both games to start the season 0-2.
Game 1 Saturday, Jan. 23
In the opening frame of the game, the Spartans managed to keep it close to start. However, Minnesota went on a 5-0 run after it was tied up 14-14. Michigan State managed to come back within three after an ace by Talia Edmonds to make it 19-16, but the Golden Gophers scored six of the next eight points to finish the set out 25-18.
As a change to the season this year in light of COVID-19, bench changes do not occur between sets so the teams conferred and retook the court after the break on the same ends. MSU seized control for most of the second set, and sat in the driver’s seat at 20-12. However, Minnesota refused to give up and responded with an 8-0 run to tie it up. The Spartans rallied, but the Gophers scored six of the final 10 points to get the win 26-24. The third set saw a dominant Minnesota squad hit 13-0-27 to secure the sweep with a final score of 25-16.
Senior Meredith Norris finished the game with seven kills, 14 digs, and hit .294. Sophomore Emma Monks posted six kills while freshman Sarah Franklin led the team with 11 kills and added six digs. Freshman Celia Cullen led the match with 31 assists while adding three kills, five digs, and an ace.
A few highlights from today's tough match at Minnesota. Back at it tomorrow for the Green Team! pic.twitter.com/u6El7Bf5ly— MSU Volleyball (@MichStVB) January 23, 2021
Game 2 Sunday, Jan. 24
The Spartans entered game two of the season and of the weekend series, but promptly fell to a tough Minnesota squad. Michigan State made a strong showing in the first two sets, but unforced errors doomed MSU and allowed the Gophers to make quick work of the final set. MSU fell 26-24 and 25-22 in the first two sets, but the Gophers took control in the third to close it out 25-12 in the final set.
Franklin led MSU again with 10 terminations and eight digs. Monks had six kills and shared team lead with three blocks. Sophomore transfer Cecilee Max-Brown had six kills and four digs, while senior Jamye Cox had 14 digs.
The Michigan State Spartans were originally scheduled to play a home-and-home series against in-state rival the Michigan Wolverines starting in Ann Arbor this upcoming Sunday, Jan. 31 and finishing in East Lansing on Mon. Feb. 1, but both games have now been postponed following the COVID-19 issues within Michigan’s athletic department.
Instead, Michigan State will be moving up its series against Ohio State. Both games will be played in East Lansing and on the same dates as originally schedule against Michigan. Each match will start at 4 p.m. EST.