Volleyball Comes Up Short Against IPFW, Michigan State
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The University of Georgia volleyball team fell short against the IPFW Mastodons 3-1 (21-15, 25-23, 16-23, 16-25) and the Michigan State Spartans 3-0 (17-25, 17-25, 18-25) on the final day of the Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Mich. The Bulldogs are now 6-3 on the season.
“We faced two tough teams today and we have to give a lot of credit to their discipline and their fight,” head coach Lizzy Stemke said. “The positives from today are we did not get outplayed, fought from point one and really competed hard. We were pushed today and were challenged and we fought. We made some errors at some critical times, but we competed and that was good to see, especially against two really tough teams. After three weeks of competition and heading into SEC play, we have a better idea of how our team works together and we have new goals for the week ahead in practice.”
For her efforts on the weekend, Kaylee Kehoe was named to the all-tournament team. Kehoe finished the weekend with 83 assists, including a season-best 34 against IPFW. She also posted five kills, two service aces and one block.
Tirah Le’au led the way for the Bulldogs, posting 13 kills and hitting at a .385 clip. It is the fifth-straight game that the sophomore either led or tied for the team lead in kills and the fourth-straight where she has earned double-digit kills. Kehoe paced the Bulldog offense with 23 assists and added two service aces. Briana Bahr and Jasmine Eatmon each finished with two blocks to lead Georgia defensively.
Georgia trailed 6-4 early in the first set before Bahr and Eatmon combined for four-straight points to take an 8-6 lead. The teams then tied four times before a 3-0 run put the Spartans up 14-11. Kehoe recorded an ace that cut the Spartan lead to three at 17-14, but Michigan State scored four-straight to take a 21-14 lead. Bahr looked to spark the Georgia offense will a kill late in the set, but the Spartans scored the final two points to seal set one 25-17.
The Bulldogs struck first in set two, taking a 5-4 lead before Michigan State scored four consecutive points to take an 8-5 lead. A kill by Elena Perri cut the Spartan lead to two at 9-7, but the Spartans answered with six-straight points to extend their lead to 15-7 before Tirah Le’au ended the run with a kill. Despite a solid effort, the Bulldogs were unable to close the gap, falling 25-17 in the second set.
The Spartans took an early 4-0 lead in the third set, before Le’au got the Bulldogs on the board, bringing the score to 4-1. Michigan State answered by scoring three of the next four points to extend its lead to 7-2 and force a Georgia timeout. The Bulldogs found some offensive rhythm, cutting the Spartan lead to two at 13-11. A pair of Buckendahl kills brought the Bulldogs within one at 15-14, but Michigan State scored seven of the final eight points to take the set 25-18 and the match 3-0.
IPFW 3, Georgia 1
Bahr had a career-day, posting a career-best 17 kills, while Chloe Buckendahl earned her third-straight double-double, finishing with 12 kills and 21 digs. Eatmon finished with a team-best five blocks, with Lauren Teknipp adding three blocks.
Georgia and IPFW went point for point for much of the opening set, tying 16 times before the Bulldogs took an 18-16 lead on kills by Buckendahl and Eatmon. A Le’au kill gave Georgia a 21-18 lead, but IPFW scored the final seven points to take the first set 25-21.
The Bulldogs rebounded for a 25-23 win in set two. A Buckendahl kill put Georgia up 5-2 and forced IPFW to call an early timeout. The Mastodons tied the set at seven, before Le’au tallied three kills in a 4-0 run that extended Georgia’s lead to 11-7. Bahr made it a five-point game with a kill that brought the score to 15-10. IPFW fought back into the match with three-straight points that made it a 17-16 game. The teams tied four times before a solo block by Buckendahl put Georgia up by two at 23-21. Buckendahl sealed the 25-23 win with a kill.
Georgia and IPFW kept it close in the early part of the third set, trading points until a Mastodon block put IPFW up two at 10-8. IPFW held on to the lead for the remainder of the set, winning it 25-16.
The fourth and final set started the same as the first three, with the teams tying three times before a Mastodon error sparked a 3-0 Georgia run that put the Bulldogs up 12-9. Georgia strung together four-straight points to take an 18-14 lead, before IPFW tied the set at 19. The teams traded points, tying six times before the Mastodons scored three of the last four points to take the set 28-26 and the match 3-1.
Georgia continues its road swing next weekend as it enters Southeastern Conference play, taking on South Carolina on Friday at 7 p.m., and Mississippi State at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.