EAST LANSING, Mich. — The University of Iowa volleyball team fell to No. 20 Michigan State, 3-0, Friday evening at Jenison Fieldhouse. The Hawkeyes fall to 10-3 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten action with the loss.
Serving proved to be a difference maker in the match. The Spartans registered nine service aces, while the Hawkeyes recorded nine errors at the serving line.
“We told our group that we needed to serve and pass well,” said UI head coach Bond Shymansky. “Instead we put up nine service errors and they put up nine aces. They are the top serving team in the conference and one of the top five in the country, but we have to fight that off. That’s the mental toughness part. We have to keep working on that as a group.”
Michigan State’s offense came out firing in set one, using three early aces and five kills to take a 13-4 lead. The Spartans continued to control the momentum, leading by as many as 13, before the Iowa rallied. The Hawkeyes utilized a 6-1 rally to pull within six. Kills by seniors Lauren Brobst (2) and Ashley Mariani (1), junior Jess Janota (1), and redshirt sophomore Kasey Reuter (1) aided the Iowa rally. The Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome the deficit; however, as Michigan State went on to win the set, 25-18.
The Spartans used a 4-0 run to take an early, 9-4, lead in set two. They never trailed from there, using a 7-1 swing late to create distance and win the match, 25-15. The Spartans hit .361 with 16 kills in the set.
After trading points early, Michigan State used a 6-1 run to take a 12-7 lead in the third set. The Hawkeyes came storming back; however, using a 5-1 swing to pull within one (14-13). Reuter (1) and Janota (1) added kills to the rally, sophomore Molly Kelly served an ace, and Mariani, Reuter, and sophomore Reghan Coyle each registered blocks. Following the media timeout, the Spartans outscored the Hawkeyes, 4-1, to establish distance. They held on from there, winning the set, 25-18.
Reuter and Brobst paced the Iowa offense with eight kills apiece. Reuter was the most efficient, hitting .421 with eight kills in 19 attempts with no errors. Senior setter Loxley Keala dished out 29 assists, junior Annika Olsen led the team with 13 digs, and Mariani and Coyle added three blocks apiece.
“Kasey is one of our team captains, and she’s just a great addition to what we are doing,” said Shymansky. “She’s so dynamic as an attacker, and great teammate out there. She’s been working hard to show her uniqueness and find a way to contribute and add value. Her spark was great for us, and we think we can get that from any of our players on the bench. They just have to know what they are capable of contributing.”
The Hawkeyes return to action tomorrow night with a 6 p.m. (CT) contest against the 22nd-ranked Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Michigan.