PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Michigan State volleyball trailed 2-0 in Piscataway on Saturday night but would not be denied victory, defeating Rutgers 3-2 (20-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-13, 15-10) in a comeback effort from College Avenue Gym. Establishing a connection with the middle blockers proved to be the biggest factor in turning the tides as the Spartan middles combined for 24 total kills with 17 coming in the final three sets.
“It wasn’t the start the way we wanted tonight, but after that second set we were able to come together as a team,” Senior captain Nalani Iosia said. “Every single one of us had to step up in our roles and manage points better. When we started leaning on each other, that’s when we started playing Spartan volleyball.”
With a win Michigan State improves to 17-11 overall and 9-9 in B1G action. Rutgers falls to 10-18 overall and 2-16 in conference matches.
R U KIDDING ME?!
— Michigan State Volleyball (@MSU_Volleyball) November 19, 2023
Michigan State was led by freshman outside hitter Taylah Holdem’s 17 kills. Holdem added three blocks and a service ace, along with five digs to fill up the stat sheet. Junior opposite Aliyah Moore was second on the team in kills with 13 and got hot late with eight of her kills coming in sets three and four.
Starting middle blockers Amani McArthur and Zuzanna Kulig each had 12 kills for MSU. McArthur led all players with six blocks, while Kulig’s 12 kills represents a new career-high for the freshman. Iosia posted a match-high 15 digs and freshman outside hitter Karolina Staniszewska added 11.
Three setters saw action for the Spartans, with junior Julia Bishop leading the charge with 32 assists and 13 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. Freshman Cameron Berger helped shift the momentum, entering the match in set three and finishing with 14 assists. Junior Rachel Muisenga added six assists. Both Bishop and Berger finished the match with a pair of service aces.
A back-and-forth first set saw Rutgers pull away from the Spartans late to steal it. Michigan State led 17-16 after back-to-back kills by Holdem following the media timeout, but a 4-0 Rutgers run gave the Scarlet Knights a three-point advantage at 20-17. A kill by Doezema and a Rutgers…