MSU’s volleyball team needed just four sets to upset defending national champion UCLA on Saturday night – perhaps the program’s biggest victory since making the Spartans’ only Final Four in 1995. And the spoils going to the victors? A date with rival Michigan in the Sweet 16.
The Spartans rallied to take the first two sets (25-17, 29-27) before dropping the third set (18-25). They pulled away again after trailing in the fourth set (25-22) to eliminate the Bruins on their home court.
All-Big Ten first-team outside hitter Lauren Wicinski finished with a match-best 23 kills for MSU. Taylor Galloway added 11 kills and 11 digs. Kori Moster had 28 digs, while Kristen Kelsay had 26 assists and Halle Peterson 24.
The Spartans (25-9) and Wolverines (25-11) will play Friday at Hass Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. First serve time is TBA.
The two teams split their two Big Ten meetings this season – MSU sweeping Michigan on Oct. 17 in Ann Arbor, and the Wolverines returning the favor with a sweep of the Spartans on Nov. 21 at Jenison Fieldhouse in East Lansing.
The Big Ten moved six of its seven teams into the third round, with only Ohio State losing.
Coach Cathy George has her program on the verge of returning to the pinnacle of volleyball success that MSU enjoyed during the mid-1990s under her predecessor, Chuck Erbe. All that stands in the Spartans way now are those pesky Wolverines.
HOCKEY: The Spartans dropped a second straight game to Ohio State on Saturday night. Here’s my story from the 3-1 loss. Two great crowds at Munn Arena suffered through the Buckeyes’ slogged-up and wait-for-mistakes style. MSU is a young team still finding its way, and coach Tom Anastos said he hopes what his players take away from the weekend is how well Ohio State plays within its system. The goal is for his Spartans to someday replicate that kind of consistent effort and focus on detail that the Buckeyes have – albeit with a much more wide-open style than OSU prefers.
FOOTBALL: MSU will learn its bowl game fate on Sunday - most likely the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. The Spartans also will hold their team banquet that night as well.
By the way, guess who predicted a Wisconsin victory over Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game all the way back in August?