East Lansing, Mich. -- The Youngstown State volleyball team battled with a tough Michigan State squad before falling in four sets (25-22, 16-25, 19-25, 22-25) at the Spartan Showcase on Saturday afternoon.
The Penguins will play McNeese State later Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Missy Hundelt posted 14 kills and 10 digs while hitting .290 for Youngstown State, and Nichele Johnson added seven kills. Shannon Watson added six kills and four blocks, and Jackie Carlisle and Aly Ryan chipped in with five kills apiece. Carlisle finished with three solo blocks, and YSU held an 8-7 advantage in blocks against the much larger Spartans.
"The 6-2 worked well," YSU head coach Mark Hardaway said. "It gave us a bigger front row, and we were still at a size disadvantage. The team played hard and did a nice job following the game plan."
"Our passing was outstanding, especially from Lexi (Egler), and that allowed us to run the offense well enough to get some great swings. We played aggressively but were able to keep the errors down. It was disappointing not to get to game five because we gave up some easy points, but we forced MSU to play hard and earn its points."
Lauren Wicinski had 24 kills and 11 digs for Michigan State, which returned 11 letterwinners from last year's squad that won a match in the NCAA Tournament.
Coming off a disappointing five-set loss to Eastern Kentucky on Friday evening, the Penguins got down 9-3 to the Spartans before calling a time out. YSU was able to collect itself and cut the deficit to two after a 6-2 run, and the Penguins went on an 8-1 run later in the set to tie the set at 18. A Carlisle kill gave YSU the lead at 19-18, and the Penguins did not trail the rest of the set.
The Spartans led just 15-13 after a Wicinski attack error in the second set, but they outscored the Penguins 10-3 the rest of the way to win 25-16. They then built a 7-1 lead in the third set, and, although YSU closed the margin to 12-10, went on to win 25-19.
The fourth set was tightly contested throughout as the largest lead was four points. A block by Watson and Jenna Cavanaugh cut YSU's deficit to 21-20, but the Guins weren't able to catch the Spartans. Michigan State scored the next two points to go up 23-20, and the teams went back-and-forth over the next four points.