The Michigan State Spartans went into their game against the Illinois Illini with a four-game winning streak against other Big Ten teams. Their win tonight against the Illinois Illini brings their winning streak to five straight games. Their team is filled with strong players including senior Amy Dentlinger, who had 16 on 20 attacks.
The Spartans started off the match by losing the first two sets by 23-25 each, but then picked up their game in the last three sets scoring 25-17, 25-21, and 15-11. Other key players making double-digit kills during the match were: junior Lauren Wicinski,a transfer from Northern Illinois, with 20 kills; Kristen Kelsay, a junior hailing from Wheaton, Illinois, with 36 assists; and Kori Moster, a sophomore who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the week last year, with 15 digs.
The team at first faltered as the Illini took an initial lead out the gate. The Spartans did what Spartans did best – they held out, kept their game-playing strong, and then came back. While they didn’t win the first set, they did close an initial six-point lead. In the second set, the Spartans and Illini were neck in neck. The score was tied at 22 when the Illini took a 4-0 streak. Illinois scored kill point even though Junior Alexis Mathews and Amy Dentlinger tried to block it.
Rather than feeling defeated by two early set losses, the Spartans took to arms in the next set. Determined to crush their opponent, they took the lead in the third set. The Spartans were up 21-15 when the Illini called for a time out, following two errors. They finished game three at 25-15 after Kirsten Kelsey scored an ace and Amy Dentlinger scored a set point with a right side kill.
Feeling confident, the Spartans went into the fourth set and trailed for only a moment. Sophomore Taylor Galloway kept the momentum going after the team reached a 5 point lead of 17-12 by scoring a kill against the Illini. Amy Dentlinger finished the set off with her 14th kill during the game, leading to a 2-2 tie between the Illini and the Spartans, and forcing a fifth set.
Freshman Halle Peterson was the star of the fifth set, scoring a service ace to win the match after a 4-1 run. The team really pulled together with Lauren Wicinski scoring off two kills and Amy Dentlinger scoring off one.
The team next plays tomorrow night, November 17, against Northwestern at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Gametracker will provide coverage of the game.