#1 Nebraska Fights Back from 0-2 Deficit to Defeat #20 Michigan State

  0 Kaitlynn Bianconi | September 25th, 2016 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News


The No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers were down 0-2 against No. 20 Michigan State Spartans, but fought back to claim a 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 16-14) victory to remain undefeated with an 11-0 record.

The Huskers lost the first two sets to a strong Spartan team, and Michigan State was leading 13-8 in what might have been the final set of the match. Nebraska found a way to turn the match around and reclaim the third set. They continued to fight, taking the fourth set and fighting off gamepoint in the fifth and final set to take the win.

The Huskers have won the past 27 matches, and just earned their 11th straight win against ranked opponents. Nebraska players hit season high numbers this year. Michaela Foecke had a season-high 17 kills, and Kadie Rolfzen had 16 kills and 9 digs. Olivia Boender claimed 8 kills, even though she didn’t enter the match until the third set.

Nebraska out-blocked Michigan State 13-10, and had 68 digs, while the Spartans only had 53.

Saturday’s match marked the second season that the Huskers came back from a 2-0 set deficit to defeat a ranked team.



Courtesy of Nebraska Athletics

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The No. 1 Nebraska volleyball team displayed its championship character by coming back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat No. 20 Michigan State, 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 16-14) at Jenison Field House in front of 4,175 fans on Saturday night.

The Huskers, now 11-0 (2-0 Big Ten), had their backs against the wall with Michigan State (12-2, 1-1 Big Ten) already up 2-0 in the match and leading 13-8 in the third set. But Nebraska found a way to turn the match around, even fighting off a match point in set five, to escape with its 27th win in a row and 11th straight win against a ranked opponent.

Mikaela Foecke had a season-high 17 kills, while Kadie Rolfzen had 16 kills and nine digs. Amber Rolfzen had eight kills and five blocks, and Andie Malloy had seven kills. Olivia Boender – who entered the match in the third set – had eight kills, including big ones down the stretch. Briana Holman had seven kills and six blocks.

Kelly Hunter put up a season-high 53 assists with 10 digs and six blocks. Justine Wong-Orantes had a team-high 14 digs, while Annika Albrecht had a season-best 13 digs to go with two aces and three kills on five attacks. Kenzie Maloney added eight digs, and Sydney Townsend had two.

Nebraska hit .303 and held the Spartans to .214. Michigan State was hitting over .400 midway through the third set, but NU held the Spartans to -.083 in the fourth set and .172 in the fifth.

The Huskers had a 13-10 edge in blocks and 68-53 advantage in digs. After allowing six service aces in the first two sets, NU didn’t allow another in the final three sets. The Huskers ended up with a 7-6 edge in aces.

Saturday’s comeback marked the second straight season the Huskers won a fifth set in East Lansing by a score of 16-14. It also marked the second straight season the Huskers came back from a 2-0 deficit on the road to beat a ranked opponent, as they did the same at No. 1 Penn State last season.

Chloe Reinig had 16 kills for the Spartans, while Brooke Kranda had 14. Autumn Bailey added 13 kills and a team-high three aces.

Set 1: Nebraska fell behind 4-1 early and never led in the first set. Despite hitting .481, the Huskers were unable to overcome the early deficit as Michigan State hit .447 and served three aces. The Huskers tied the set at 8-8 on an Albrecht kill and 20-20 after consecutive kills by Foecke. But it was then when Michigan State was victorious on two lengthy challenge reviews, one by each team. After that, the Spartans finished off the 25-22 win.

Set 2: The Huskers got off to a better start in the second set by taking a 5-3 lead. The Spartans came back to take a 7-6 lead before Foecke tied it with her sixth kill. But Kranda’s serve caused problems for the Big Red as the Spartans went up 15-10 with a 6-0 run. A Kadie Rolfzen kill got the Huskers a sideout, but Michigan State pulled away to an 18-12 lead. Kills by Malloy and Foecke cut it to 18-14, and an ace by Albrecht forced a Spartan timeout at 18-15. But a pair of kills and another ace from the Spartans put them ahead 21-15. NU scored four straight to get within 23-20 after kills by Foecke and Holman and a Hunter ace. After a Spartan timeout, Kranda got a kill for set point at 24-20. Holman and Kadie Rolfzen kept the Huskers alive with kills, and the Spartans hit wide to pull NU within 24-23. But Reinig secured the set for the Spartans with a kill, and MSU took the 2-0 lead into intermission.

Set 3: Michigan State opened up an early lead again and extended it to 13-8. But the Huskers fought back with two kills by Malloy and one each from Kadie Rolfzen, Boender and Amber Rolfzen to tie the set 15-15. Foecke gave the Huskers’ their first lead in the set, 17-16, with her 12th kill, and Albrecht made it 18-16 to force a Spartan timeout. A swing by Holman got the Huskers to 20 first at 20-18, and Kadie Rolfzen connected twice to make it 22-19, and Boender found the floor for a 23-20 lead. A solo stuff by Amber Rolfzen gave NU its first set point of the net, and the Huskers capitalized with an ace by Kadie Rolfzen. A much-improved defensive effort by the Huskers held MSU to .211 hitting in the set. NU hit .314 to bring its match average to .351.

Set 4: Holman began the set with a kill and a stuff to put the Huskers ahead 2-0. A Kadie Rolfzen kill and MSU error increased the lead to 6-3, and a tip kill by Foecke made it 10-7. The Spartans crawled back to within 11-10 before a Boender kill restored a two-point lead. Then the Spartans hit into the net, and Kadie Rolfzen swatted an MSU attack to put NU up 14-10. The Huskers went on a 6-0 run to go up 22-13, thanks in part to a Holman and Hunter block, and kills by Foecke and Holman. Hunter served an ace and the Spartans hit into the net, giving the Huskers a 25-14 win and forcing a fifth set in East Lansing for the second straight year.

Set 5: Michigan State took a 2-0 lead after a pair of Husker miscues. Kadie Rolfzen’s kill got NU on the board, and a Foecke ace evened it at 2-2. NU went up by two, 5-3, after a Michigan State net violation. The Spartans won the next four rallies, however, to reclaim a 7-5 advantage and force a Husker timeout. The teams engaged in a sideout battle until the Huskers hit wide to put MSU up 11-8. A Foecke/Holman block cut it to 11-10, but the Spartans answered with a block of their own to go up 12-10. Kadie Rolfzen and Boender tallied back-to-back kills to tie the set at 12-12. The score remained tied at 13-13 before Reinig gave MSU match point, but Boender produced a clutch kill to make it 14-14. Incredible digs by Wong-Orantes and Maloney on the next rally led to a Spartan hitting error to give the Huskers match point. A stuff by Hunter and Amber Rolfzen clinched the Huskers’ 27th straight win.

Up Next: The Huskers continue their three-match road stretch to open Big Ten play at Illinois on Wednesday at  7:30 p.m.

Husker Stats

Mikaela Foecke (17 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs, 2 blocks)
Kadie Rolfzen (16 kills, 1 ace, 9 digs, 3 blocks)
Amber Rolfzen (9 kills, 3 digs)
Olivia Boender (8 kills, 2 digs)

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Keep track of the Huskers on Facebook @HuskerVolleyball, Twitter @Huskervball and Instagram @huskervolleyball


Courtesy of Michigan State Athletics

With No. 1 and undefeated Nebraska in town, No. 20 Michigan State knew it had an opportunity to make a statement. Although it wasn’t quite the statement that they had hoped to make, MSU still showed that it could go toe-to-toe with the defending National Champions and No. 1 team in the country, falling in five sets, 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 14-25, 14-16).

MSU held a 2-0 lead in the match, and dropped the first set after the break, 25-20. The fourth set was one that the Spartans would certainly like back, as a negative hititng percentage and a cavalcade of errors shot the Spartans in the foot, falling 25-14. The fifth set was all the 4,1175 in attendance could have hoped for, with the exception of the final score – the fifth set was tied six times and featured three lead changes, but the visitors took the final two points after a 14-14 deadlock to claim the road victory.

The Huskers, who had lost just two sets this season prior to tonight, improve to 11-0 and 2-0 Big Ten. Mikaela Foecke had a match-best 17 kills and added two blocks for Nebraska, whie Kadie Rolfzen had 17 kills, nine digs, and three blocks.

For the Spartans, their seven-match winning streak came to a close, it’s longest stretch of victories since the 2013 season. MSU stands at 12-2, 1-1 Big Ten. Chloe Reinig had season bests of 16 kills and five blocks, (one solo). Rachel Minarick had a double-double with 52 assists (three off her career best) and added 12 digs, while Autumn Bailey also had a a double-double (13 kills, 10 digs, three aces, and three assists).

This is the second straight season that MSU has fallen to Nebraska at home by a 3-2 score; the Spartans lost to the eventual National Champions 3-2, with the fifth set a two-point game (15-13).

The Spartans head on the road next weekend for games at No. 18 Penn State and Rutgers.

Quoteable: “It’s a tough loss for sure, especially when you feel like you have them on the ropes. You also know that it’s an incredibly talented team on the other side of the net, and they aren’t going to give you much. Our players got to hear from MSU’s 1976 team after the match tonight, and I thought that they had a great message for us – that we needed to to stick together, believe in what we’re doing, and to learn from tonight’s disappointment and make it the start of something special. We got a huge lift from a great crowd that included more than 50 alumni who came back – we’re incredibly lucky to have that support in our corner. This one will certainly sting, but we cannot let it hold us back – this was game two of 20 in the Big Ten season, and there’s still a whole lot to play for.”

— Head Coach Cathy George


  • SET ONE: The fans were treated to exciting rallies, impressive defensive displays, and powerful terminations in the opening frame, as the teams battled out a point-for-point battle. MSUs largest lead was four points (14-10), and the set also featured a pair of coaches challenges – both which ended up going MSU’s way. Both teams hit better than .400 for the frame – MSU .447 with 19 kills, and Nebraska .481 with 14. Bailey was MSU’s top scorer with six kills and four digs, while Reinig and Kranda each had five.


  • SET TWO: The Spartans trailed by two early (6-4) but rallied back to take their first lead of the set at 8-7. The teams tied at 10-10, and the relentless Spartans built their lead to five points, their largest of the night, at 15-10. Consecutive Fitterer kills built the Spartan advantage to 18-12, but three straight for the Huskers trimmed it back to three points, and MSU called time out to regroup. Fitterer slammed home her third consecutive kill for MSU to get the sideout, and Bailey delivered an ace to win the race to 20 points and push the Spartan lead back to five (20-15). A pair of shots out of bounds by Nebraska and a Minarick dump over the net kept the Spartan momentum going and gave MSU its largest lead at 23-16, but the Huskers stormed back with four straight points (their biggest run of the night) to trim it to 23-20. A kranda kill off the block got MSU to set point, but the Huskers fought it off, and an MSU error allowed Nebraska to pull within one, 24-23. A Kranda shot down the right line sealed it for the Spartans 25-23. MSU’s offense was spread around – Fitterer, Reinig, and KRanda each had three kills, and Garveink added two. MSU hit .312 to the Huskers .281, and each team posted one block.


  • SET THREE: A 4-1 run allowed MSU to open up a 12-7 advantage in the third set, refusing to take their foot off the gas. The Huskers weren’t going to go away easy, however – and used a 6-1 run to tie the game then take an 18-16 lead. Leading 22-20, Nebraska got back-to-back kill s from Olivia Boender and a block by Amber Rolfzen to get to set point, and then Kadie Rolfzen delivered an ace to seal it for the visitors. MSU hit just .211 in the frame, with six errors – matching it’s total from the first two sets combined. Nebraska hit .314 by comparison. Garvelink led MSU with four kills, while hloe Reinig had two kills and three blocks (one solo).


  • SET FOUR: The Huskers looked to establish a significant early lead in the fourth, something that had eluded them in the first three sets. With Nebraska up 7-3, MSU clawed back into it with a bit of defensive magic and trimmed it down to 8-7 before the visitors could get a sideout with a kill off the block. Nebraska used a 7-3 run, aided by five Spartan errors, to pull ahead by five, 18-13. Out of the MSU timeout, the Huskers went full-throttle, closing out the set on a 14-4 run overall to force a fifth set, as MSU committed 12 hitting errors in the frame and fell 25-14. Reinig had three kills and a block, her fifth of the night, to lead MSU.


  • SET FIVE: Trailing 5-3, MU ran off four straight points to take a 7-5 lead, and a Reinig kill gave MSU an 8-6 advantage at the crossover. The teams refused to give each other an inch, and both came up with impressive plays on both sides of the net. MSU led 12-10 when Nebraska called a timeout; a Kadie Rolfzen kill made it a one-point affair. The next point was called a down ball on a Rachel Minarickpancake attempt to tie the set 12-12. Tied again at 14-14, a Spartan shot sailed long to give the Huskers match point, and Kadie Rolfzen sealed the come-from-behind victory with a block to take the set 16-14.


  • Chloe Reinighad a season-best 16 kills, 36 attempts, five blocks (one solo) and one assist.
  • Brooke Krandahad a season-best 14 kills and hit .263, adding a pair of aces, three blocks (one solo) and two digs.
  • Allyssah Fittererhad nine kills, hit .444, and tied her season best with three blocks.
  • Alyssa Garvelinkhad 11 kills and added a team-best four blocks, hitting .364.


  • MSU’s winning streak was snapped at seven straight games, the Spartans’ longest winning streak since 2013.
  • MSU’s record of 12-2 is the best start to a season since the 2013 team which went 13-1.
  • Nebraska‘s third-set victory snapped streak of 15 consecutive sets won for MSU, dating back to the match at No. 23 WKU (Sept. 10).
  • Through their first 10 matches of the season, Nebraska had lost just two sets – and MSU took the first two tonight.
  • MSU’s three solo blocks tied its season high, set previously vs. Cincinnati (Sept. 9).
  • With 10 team blocks, the Spartans had their fifth double-digit block performance this season. Nebraska‘s 13 blocks was the most by an MSU opponent this season.
  • MSU is now 1-1 in five-set matches this season, and both were against ranked teams. MSU defeated Western Kentucky 3-2 in Bowling Green earlier this season.
  • MSU had six service aces, and has 48 over the last five matches combined.
  • Autumn Baileyhad her third double-double of the season with 13 kills and added 10 digs, three aces, and three assists.
  • Rachel Minarickcontributed her second double-double of the season, dishing out 52 assists, and 12 digs – both season bests.
  • Abby Monsontied her season high with 17 digs, her eighth double-digit dig match, and sixth in the last seven games.

Up Next: The Spartans will travel to Pennsylvania to face the Penn State Nittany Lions Friday, Sept. 30. First serve is set for 7 pm.

Spartan Stats

Brooke Kranda (14 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs, 1 block)
Chloe Reining (16 kills, 1 dig, 5 blocks)
Autumn Bailey (13 kills, 2 aces, 10 digs, 1 block)
Alyssa Garvelink (11 kills, 4 blocks)

Follow the Spartans on Facebook, Instagram @michstvb and Twitter @MichStVB


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