Spartan Volleyball Downed by No. 8 Minnesota

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10/15/2021 | 6 pm


EAST LANSING, Mich. – In its second-straight match against a top-10 opponent, Michigan State was defeated by No. 8 Minnesota, 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 21-25, 21-25), in Big Ten volleyball action on Saturday evening at Jenison Field House. MSU is now 8-6, sitting at 1-4 in league play. For the Gophers, they improved to 9-5 overall and 4-2 in the B1G standings.
Despite out-hitting the guests through the first two sets, MSU ended with a .203 hit percentage compared to Minnesota’s .238 clip, as the Gophers came out with a 61-46 advantage in kills. A back-and-fourth affair for most of the match, both teams racked up seven service aces, while MSU had a commanding 12-5 edge on the block.
Sophomore Sarah Franklin paced the Spartan attack with 16 kills, adding 11 digs, five blocks and two aces in a double-double performance. A .321 hitting clip for junior Cecilee Max-Brown allowed the outside hitter to collect 13 kills, and fellow junior Biamba Kabengele tacked on double-digit kills as well (11). Sophomore Celia Cullen had 39 assists and seven digs on the night, while redshirt junior Talia Edmonds (14 digs, three aces) and Emma Monks (seven blocks) led the defensive efforts for MSU.
Michigan State continues its four-match homestand on Friday, Oct. 15 when No. 4 Wisconsin comes to Jenison Field House, followed by a Saturday showdown with (RV) Maryland. Friday night’s contest will be aired nationally on Big Ten Network at 6 p.m.

  • Sarah Franklin had a double-double with a team-best 16 kills alongside 11 digs
  • Cecilee Max-Brown posted a team-high .321 hitting percentage for 13 kills
  • Celia Cullen tallied 39 assists for MSU, along with seven digs
  • Talia Edmonds paced the Spartans in digs (14) and aces (three)
  • Emma Monks was one of three Spartans to record five-plus blocks, posting seven blocking assists


  • Naya Gros had five total blocks (one solo, four assists)
  • Max-Brown has now recorded 10-or-more kills in three-straight contests
  • Saturday was Edmonds’ 10th match of the season with double-digit digs
  • Senior Lauryn Gibbs made her second appearance in as many matches after missing the first 13 contests of the season due to injury. Gibbs finished Saturday with nine digs and an assist
  • Jenna Wenaas led the Gophers with 17 kills and was one of three Minnesota players to record a double-double alongside Stephanie Samedy and Melani Shaffmaster


  • SET ONE:  After Minnesota took the opening two points, MSU rattled off a seven-point run to force a Gopher timeout at 7-2. The Spartans extended lead to 9-2 after a Cecilee Max-Brown kill and a block from Max-Brown and Emma Monks. After a service error ended the spurt, MSU responded with another run when it took three-straight points to cause Minnesota to take its second timeout of the set. A Jenna Wenaas kill kicked off a 8-2 run by the Gophers that was compounded by four MSU attack errors to bring UM within two points. Back-to-back aces from Sarah Franklin were able to create some separation at 22-17, but an ensuing 5-1 Gopher stretch brought them within one point. Wenaas then committed a serving error that set up Talia Edmonds for the set-winning ace. Franklin and the Gophers’ Airi Miyabe paced both sides with six kills after one, while Max-Brown followed with five kills. Max-Brown and Franklin combined to hit .555 in the first set on 18 swings, helping MSU hit .237 as a team. The Spartan serve receive also had a strong set, not allowing a Minnesota ace.
  • SET TWO:  Katie Myers registered the first Minnesota ace on the opening point of the second set, but neither side was able to mount a substantial run until four-straight MSU points gave the home team its first lead of the frame at 10-9. The teams continued to trade points until Minnesota took a 16-14 advantage, resulting with a MSU timeout. Coming out of the timeout, a Stephanie Samedy kill was overturned, while a Max-Brown ace evened the score. A 3-0 run from the Gophers regained the lead for UM, but Michigan State grabbed six of the next nine points to bring the frame even again, with Biamba Kabengele chipping in two kills. Minnesota would not allow a Spartan comeback in the set, pulling out three of the last four points for a 25-23 set win. After none in the first set, Minnesota found its serve game in the second with three aces and just one service error. The Spartans held Miyabe to just three kills in the frame, while Franklin connected on four terminations. MSU hit an identical .237 mark in the first two sets, and limited UM to a .152 hitting clip in the second frame. The Spartans also collected five total blocks in the set compared to two for the Gophers.
  • SET THREE:  Two kills each from Franklin and Max-Brown propelled an 8-4 MSU start and an early Gopher timeout. Minnesota prevented the Spartans from running away with the set, eventually using two Miyabe kills to begin on a 4-0 run itself that cut the deficit to 12-11 and forced a timeout from MSU. An UM attack error interceded an additional 3-0 stretch by Minnesota, giving the Gophers a 14-13 edge. Another Michigan State timeout after Minnesota took a 19-17 lead allowed Franklin to put down a kill, but Minnesota did not let its host retake the lead by racking up four kills in the final nine points of the set. Despite the set loss, MSU did improve its hit percentage to .267 but allowed the Gophers to hit at a .438 clip in the frame.
  • SET FOUR:  Michigan State erased an early 4-1 hole by taking eight of the next 10 points, making Minnesota burn a timeout after back-to-back blocks from Naya Gros and Celia Cullen capped a 5-0 MSU run. The Spartans came out with four of the next six points after the break to extend their advantage, which proved key when Minnesota rallied for three-straight points later to force a MSU timeout at 17-15. Minnesota extended the run to 6-0, while another MSU timeout came with the Gophers up, 18-17. A Gros kill tied the score one last time out of the timeout, but Minnesota did not relent, as a 7-3 closing stretch dealt the Spartans their second loss of the weekend. The Gophers out-hit the Spartans in the final frame, .206 to .037.


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