Hawkeyes Fall to Michigan State, 3-0
Nov. 4, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The University of Iowa volleyball team fell to Michigan State, 3-0, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena tonight (25-18, 25-12, 25-21). Michigan State used a .350 hitting percentage and out-blocked the Hawkeyes 6-3 to earn the straight set victory. Senior Tiffany Nilges paced the Hawkeyes' balanced effort with eight kills. Freshman Alex Lovell put down seven kills and sophomore Nikki Dailey dished out 25 assists.
"We just couldn't slow Michigan State down," said head coach Sharon Dingman. "One of the things we count on is our back court defense and it was pretty nonexistent tonight. That's certainly an area we have to get better at because it's usually one of our strengths. A week ago we were doing a great job at digging balls, but for whatever reason tonight we just couldn't get it done."
Michigan State won the digging war, 32-16. The Hawkeyes, who played without starting libero Bethany Yeager for part of the match, picked up just three digs in the second set. Yeager played through back pain most of the match, but missed the entire third set. Her status is day-to-day.
The Spartans used a .414 attack percentage to take the opening set, 25-18. Iowa came out strong with two kills from Nilges and one from Mallory Husz to grab a 4-2 lead. Tied at nine, Michigan State made a 5-1 run to force an Iowa timeout. The Spartans were able to continue momentum with the help of a 4-0 run and extended their lead, 21-12. Iowa responded with two kills from Lovell, but Michigan State fought off the Hawkeye rally to earn the 1-0 match advantage. Nilges led Iowa with four kills and Dailey collected 10 assists.
The Spartans' momentum continued into the second frame en route to a 25-12 victory. Michigan State slammed 14 kills with a .524 attack percentage to win the set and grab a 2-0 match lead.
Michigan State ended the match winning the third frame, 25-21. The Spartans continued to roll in the set, opening a 10-4 lead that forced Dingman to call a timeout. Iowa answered the timeout and ended the run with a kill from freshman Emily Yanny. Iowa would later rally back with a 12-7 run that included kills from Nilges, Yanny, and Lovell to pull within one, 22-21. Trailing by a single point, Iowa forced Michigan State into a timeout. But the Spartans answered the break with three consecutive kills to end the frame and grab the 3-0 match victory.
Iowa's Lovell finished with a .417 hitting percentage, a career high against Big Ten opponents. She finished with seven kills and two errors in 12 total attacks.
"It was fun to watch Alex play like that," said Dingman. "She had an awful lot of good passes and she attacked the ball really well. I thought she was really good tonight and that was good to see. We hope to see more of it tomorrow."
Iowa returns to Mediacom court tomorrow night to face No. 23 Michigan. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines play at 7 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.