LOS ANGELES - Michigan State (25-9) beat defending National Champion UCLA (23-8) 3-1 on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion. The Spartans advanced to the Sweet 16 by topping the Bruins by scores of 25-17, 29-27, 18-25 and 25-22. Lauren Wicinski paced MSU with 23 kills on the night and Kori Moster notched 28 digs for MSU. Taylor Gallowayrecorded her seventh double-double of the season with 11 kills and 11 digs.
“Our team played with a lot of heart and we really got after it,” head coach Cathy Georgesaid. “We played defense and had an answer for a lot of their powerful attacks. They have two great outside hitters and I think we contained them and played together. That’s what we needed to come away with a victory against the defending National Champion at their home. It was important that we stuck together through thick and thin and answered the call.”
MSU advances to the Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2007 and will face Michigan in the Berkley Regional.
The Spartans took set one over the Bruins 25-17 to take a 1-0 match lead. MSU hit .267 percent while holding UCLA to a .097 mark. Kelsey Kuipers and Alexis Mathews teamed up for a block, capping off a 4-0 run to take a 19-9 lead and also forced a Bruins timeout. Freshman Halle Peterson notched a service ace to give MSU the 25-17 victory.
UCLA took the third set, 25-18 and hit .345 percent in the game. The Bruins used a 11-2 run to take a 24-15 lead late and the Spartans fended off three straight set points but Rachael Kidder ended it with a kill for UCLA.
Set four was back-and-forth until UCLA pulled away 13-9 and forced a MSU timeout after a 4-0 run. The turning point may have been after a kill by Lauren Wicinski off a rare assist from Alexis Mathews. The Spartans went on a 4-1 run following that point and consecutive kills followed by a UCLA error tied the match at 18. Alexis Mathewsstole the show for MSU down the stretch and put MSU in the lead 24-22 after two straight kills. Mathews then ended the match with a thundering block in the middle, sending the Spartans to the Sweet 16.
The Spartans hit .293 in the match and Wicinski led all players with 23 kills. Kristen Kelsay had 26 assists and five digs while Halle Petersonrecorded 24 assists and six digs. Mathews had six kills and four blocks for MSU while Galloway came away with her seventh double-double.
The Spartans will face Michigan in the Regional Semifinals on Friday, Dec. 7 in Berkley, Calif. at Haas Pavilion.