Minnesota vs. Michigan State Volleyball, In-game updates with special guest CJ Spang

by Mark Heise

CJ Spang (6:59:33 PM): Game one is just about to start. Christine Tan is serving for the Gophers. And whoa we’ve got a development. Everyone was a little eager to get this one started. Both teams were out on the court ready to play, but it’s a little before the scheduled start time of 7 PM so the teams are huddled back up and we’ll start this one in a few minutes. Mark Heise (7:00:53 PM): It’s a little strange, maybe there’s a technical difficulty with ESPN, who is taping the game because both teams are now warming up once again CJ Spang (7:02:06 PM): Haha, right as you say that, they’ve just announced that because of the ESPN telecast, the match will start at 7:04. Even though the game is being taped, they still have to follow a strict schedule in order to make it fit in the allotted time slot Sunday. Oh the joys of television. Mark Heise (7:02:46 PM): Indeed, joys. But it’s not a bad gig, is it? you seem to be enjoying your time in Rochester. CJ Spang (7:03:33 PM): I wasn’t specifically talking about my job. But since we’re on the subject…no no. I really do enjoy it. I mean let’s be honest, I get paid to watch sports for a living – that’s a pretty sweet deal. Mark Heise (7:04:15 PM): agreed. And we’re ready to start CJ Spang (7:05:17 PM): Gophers lose the first point. Vatterodt made a great block on the left side, but the Spartans were able to fire one through. Minnesota comes right back though as Gibbemeyer takes care of business. Mark Heise(7:06:09 PM): Minnesota has struggled with its size on the right side block all season, and the Spartans took advantage, hitting off the hands for the first point. CJ Spang” (7:05:47 PM): And there’s Vanessa King, we talked about her earlier. She just picked up a solo block, then followed it with a service ace, 3-1 Michigan State. CJ Spang” (7:07:14 PM): Nice recovery by the Gophers on this last point. Poor passing gave the Spartans a chance but Minnesota was able to get another chance and Brook Dieter got the kill. Mark Heise (7:08:21 PM): Dieter is having an extremely strong conference season so far. During her freshman year, teams focused on her and she ran into some difficulties. This year she’s mixing up her shots a little better, and it’s showing. CJ Spang” (7:09:38 PM): Gophers still trailing. It’s now 7-5 Spartans after a little finesse kill into the middle of the Gophers half. But Minnesota comes right back with the point after a couple of really powerful spikes. Mark Heise (7:10:15 PM): Michigan State is playing scrappy defensively right now, but a few overpasses cost them on that point. CJ Spang” (7:11:42 PM): Minnesota just tied this at nine thanks to a great kill by Dieter, that just stayed in along the back line. Mark Heise (7:12:20 PM): Minnesota’s passing hasn’t been as accurate as they would probably like at this point, but Hartmann is still doing a good job of getting it to her hitters in a place where they can kill the ball. CJ Spang” (7:12:30 PM): Gophers with their first lead since 1-0, they’re up 11-10 after a nice solo block by Dieter. Mark Heise (7:13:40 PM): Dieter’s blocking has also improved steadily this season. We are seeing more and more solo blocks from the sophomore as the season has progressed. Mark Heise (7:15:02 PM): Dieter with another kill from the back row, that ‘s something that the Gophers have incorporated into their game since the Penn State match, and with Dieter’s jumping ability and forward momentum, it’s really causing opposing teams trouble so far. CJ Spang (7:15:57 PM): The Gophers just scored three straight points to take a 15-12 lead. And the TV timeout certainly helps the Spartans which gave away a couple of points on errors in the last sequence. CJ Spang (7:16:57 PM): Great rally here after the timeout. Both teams had some sloppy play but the Gopher end up capping it off with a great spike by Pamela Luiz. Mark Heise (7:18:10 PM): Luiz is just 5’11, but has been a big asset on the right side so far this season, solidifying a spot Minnesota has struggled to fill in the recent years. Luiz has been very good at hitting off of the blocker’s hands this season, as we saw there. CJ Spang” (7:19:35 PM): Michigan State timeout as the Gophers score three straight points to take a 19-14 lead. It started with a kill be Dieter from the back row. Then Vatterodt had a block. And Gibbemeyer capped it off with a quick kill. Mark Heise (7:20:13 PM): Gibbemeyer and Dieter are leading the Gophers offensively so far, with big offensive sets. Dieter has collected 7 kills thus far, while Gibbemeyer has added 6. CJ Spang” (7:21:36 PM): Gibbemeyer just picked up another one to make it 20-16. Gave a little nod afterward too like she knew it was good the whole way. Her and Dieter were part of the great recruiting class last season that had everyone talking. CJ Spang” (7:22:29 PM): Michigan State just called its second time out with the Gophers leading 22-17. Minnesota looked sluggish to start, but seems to be hitting its stride a little more as the game progresses. Mark Heise (7:22:49 PM): Michigan State has been slow to cover the quick set, leaving Gibbemeyer free to put several balls down on the eight-foot line. CJ Spang” (7:24:52 PM): Minnesota serving for set point now, leading 24-19 CJ Spang” (7:25:44 PM): And now I’ve been informed they’re no longer called “games” but they’re “sets”. Clearly I’ve been away for a little while. Mark Heise (7:26:39 PM): That lead can be attributed to Minnesota’s passing. The Gophers have been dead-on with their passing since the moment I criticized it early in the set. It’s as if they were reading the blog. (which I don’t think they do.) CJ Spang” (7:26:44 PM): Minnesota just called its first time out of the set. The Gophers still have set point at 24-21, but after losing the last two points it was a good move to slow down the Spartans with the time out. CJ Spang” (7:28:34 PM): The Gophers are struggling to close out this set. Vanessa King just went to town picking up back-to-back kills and had an important block in the sequence as well, making it 24-23 Minnesota. The Spartans won’t go down without a fight. Mark Heise (7:29:45 PM): Mich State is finding success tipping over the double-block early in this match. CJ Spang” (7:30:38 PM): Well that’s a weird way for the Gophers to win set one. Dieter had the spike but it went straight to the Spartans’ libero Allyson Karaba. She dug it out and it got the ball to the eight-foot line, but no one was there to receive the pass and it falls in. Minnesota wins the first set 25-23. TheAntiYanks35 (7:33:53 PM): Definite mis-communication on the Spartans, and the Gophers catch a break. Gibbemeyer finished with 8 kills and Dieter added 7. Minnesota received just three kills from other players however, that will need to change. Vanessa King led Michigan State with four kills, and Megan Schatzle added four as well CJ Spang” (7:34:03 PM): Set two is now underway with Michigan State serving. And the Gophers win the point after a Gibbemeyer spike and four touches by the Spartans. CJ Spang” (7:34:03 PM): Set two is now underway with Michigan State serving. And the Gophers win the point after a Gibbemeyer spike and four touches by the Spartans. Mark Heise (7:36:13 PM): It looks like you’ll be calling Gibbemeyer and Dieter’s name a lot tonight. CJ Spang” (7:39:27 PM): I’m surprised that coach Hebert didn’t call a timeout as the Spartans just ripped off a five-point rally to take a 7-4 lead. Minnesota got lucky to score its fifth point and Michigan State dropped the ball – bad reference, but that’s pretty much what happened. Mark Heise (7:40:12 PM): Minnesota is struggling to record a kill here in the second set, and giving the Spartans too many opportunities to put the ball down. CJ Spang” (7:41:35 PM): This second set has been sloppy on both sides of the net. Lots of mistakes by both teams in the passing game, and even the attempts have been off for both squads. I suppose it’s only right with both teams struggling, the game is tied 10. Mark Heise (7:43:38 PM): Both teams are passing away good shot opportunities, and having to settle for weaker shots as they are forced to adjust. The hitters are out of rhythm with their respective setters. CJ Spang” (7:45:26 PM): TV timeout here in the second set. Minnesota leads 15-13 in a sloppy set by both squads. Michigan State just gave the Gophers the last two points on a net violation and King attempt that went wide. Mark Heise (7:45:53 PM): I actually saw assistant athletic communications director Steve Geller call that timeout, he was sitting right next to me, and made the T with his hands, asking for the break. CJ Spang” (7:46:27 PM): I’m guessing he was just reminding the other staffers of the TV timeout. But I guess this is your blog, Mark. Mark Heise (7:49:04 PM): Setter Rachel Hartmann said Tuesday that Michigan State always comes to play when it visits Minnesota, and tonight the Spartans are proving her right, as they are keeping with the Gophers point-for-point. CJ Spang” (7:50:15 PM): Gophers lead 19-18 after another kill by Dieter. But Michigan State comes right back to tie the game at 19. This set looks like it will go to the wire as well. Mark Heise (7:52:41 PM): It does look that way, as this set has really come down to which team plays better defensively. Neither team appears to have nearly the number of kills they racked up in the first set, (Minnesota 18, Mich St. 15). Instead it’s coming down to blocking and passing CJ Spang” (7:53:29 PM): Minnesota just called its first timeout of the set after firing a couple of attempts wide, giving the Spartans the 22-20 lead. Gophers going to need a rally…and they just sent in Kyla Roehrig, so maybe she’s the answer. Mark Heise (7:54:07 PM): Kyla Roehrig enters the game after sitting on the bench throughout warmups. It doesn’t look like Hebert is interested in letting Michigan State tie this match. CJ Spang” (7:56:25 PM): This set is getting exciting. Minnesota trailed 24-21 and managed to get two straight points to get within one 24-23. The Gophers didn’t call a timeout when facing that set point and it appeared to work out because MSU just called the timeout as the Spartans have let the momentum get away from them. Gophers serving with a chance to tie this thing at 24. CJ Spang” (7:57:57 PM): And the Gophers get it done. Gibbeyemer and Dieter just teamed up for a doubleblock on Kyndra Abron. It seems strange the Spartans didn’t go to King right there. Abron has been hot this set, but King is just so go-to. The Spartans are forced to call another time out as the set is tied at 24 and Minnesota has all the momentum. Mark Heise (7:58:46 PM): I was about to say expect this set to go to one of those sophomores, but it never got to that point. Dieter and Gibbemeyer still in the front row, and both are gamers. Expect the ball to go to one of the two. CJ Spang” (8:01:46 PM): Well, Minnesota fought off three match points, but couldn’t get it done on the fourth. It was a sloppy final point, but sloppy is how one would describe most of that set anyways, so it’s actually fitting. Michigan State pulls even with Minnesota at one game apiece with the 26-24 win. Mark Heise (8:04:09 PM): The Gophers struggled through the set, and through two sets still haven’t found a third hitter to count on tonight. Luiz has three kills, Schmidt has two and Vatterrodt had one before being replaced by Roehrig late in the set. Dieter leads the Gophers with 12 kills and Gibbemeyer added 11. Michigan State held the Gophers to a .205 hit percentage in the second set, while hitting .235. King leads the Spartans with 9 kills, and Kyndra Abron had a strong set to finish the two sets with 7 kills. CJ Spang (8:07:12 PM): Yeah Minnesota’s lack of balance is something that really stands out when looking at the statistics – and we love our statistics. Michigan State has five players with at least five kills, while you just mentioned, Minnesota has just two. Now it’s pretty clear that Minnesota’s two – Gibbemeyer and Dieter – are talented enough to carry the team to a win, but that won’t always be the case as teams really begin to scheme to stop those two. Mark Heise (8:10:25 PM): It looks like Roehrig may be the third option in the third set, as she, as expected, is spending the break time warming up out on the court. Vatterrodt collected just one kill on the left side tonight, and it appears as if Roehrig will replace her on the left side.