Michigan State Knocks Off No. 15 Kentucky for Sweet 16 Berth

Dec. 8, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 20 Michigan State Spartans knocked off the Lexington Sub-Regional’s top-seeded team, Kentucky, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon as the Spartans punched its ticket into the Lexington Regional for the Sweet 16 next weekend at Memorial Coliseum. The appearance in the Sweet 16 marks the fourth time in program history that the Spartans have advanced past the second round.

In the opening set, five kills from Michigan State’s Alexis Mathews led MSU to a 25-22 win to take the early 1-0 lead in the match. Michigan State opened the match with two straight points, and maintained a lead for much of the match’s early going before UK tied it at 11-11. The Spartans then went on to win seven of the final 11 points of the set to claim the lead. Whitney Billings led the Wildcats with four kills in the frame.

In the second set, Kentucky evened the match behind three kills from both Billings and Morgan Bergren. UK came out of the timeout firing, winning seven-consecutive points, causing Michigan State to take its final timeout of the set trailing 15-19. Michigan State won the first two points after the timeout, but UK did enough to claim the set from there, winning six of the last 11 points. Both Allyssah Fitterer and Lauren Wicinski had three second-set kills for Michigan State.

The Spartans took a two set to one lead in the third set, rallying from a 13-8 deficit to start the set to taking seven of the next 10 points to capture a 16-15 lead and force Kentucky to call its first timeout. MSU then was aided by two blocking and net violations from UK to take the set 25-22. Allyssah Fitterer had a match-high seven kills in the set, leading the Spartans. Billings led the Wildcats for the third-successive set with five kills.

MSU exploded out of the gates in the third set, taking an early 8-2 lead and building a deficit too big for the Wildcats to overcome. The Wildcats used a 5-0 run in the middle of the set to close the gap, but Michigan State withstood the Wildcat run and won the match in the third set, 25-20. Wicinsk led all players in the match with 18 kills.

Michigan State advances to the NCAA Sweet 16 and will take on No. 2 Penn State in the Lexington Regional semifinal on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum.