Post-Game Notes- MSU vs. Kentucky
Spartans down Kentucky, 3-1
MSU travels to Lexington, Ky. for start of Championship quest
Seniors Strong in Final Game at Michigan
Before arriving at Michigan State, Cathy George had already established herself as one of the more well-respected coaches in the nation. George has helped Michigan State return among the elite programs in the Big Ten Conference in her ninth season as head coach. George ranks 29th among active coaches for total wins in NCAA Division I volleyball with 511 victories. In addition, George ranks among the top 80 coaches all-time with a career .603 winning percentage. Every year, George has had her teams in the top-25 in annual attendance among all NCAA Division I teams, including a high of eighth in 2008 when the Spartans welcomed 36,419 total fans. George currently boasts a career record of 511-337, and is 146-113 while at MSU.
George has continued the tradition of excellence in the classroom at Michigan State as she has boasted 40 Academic All-Big Ten selections and seven Big Ten Distinguished Scholars during her time.
In 2012, the Spartans reached the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and advanced to the Regional Semifinals for the second time in five years. MSU opened the tournament with a 3-2 win over No. 18 San Diego and then upset defending national champion UCLA on its home floor, 3-1, in-route to the Sweet 16. The Spartans opened the season on a 12-match win streak that included four tournament titles: The Spartan Showcase, UConn Classic, Spartan Invitational and Charleston Invitational. George won her 500th match at Iowa and the Spartans swept Michigan on its home floor. In November, Michigan State won six consecutive Big Ten matches, the best streak in program history since 1998. During that stretch, the Spartans upset No. 4 Nebraska 3-2, defeating a top-5 opponent for the first time since 1996. MSU followed that with a 3-1 win at No. 10 Minnesota, winning back-to-back matches over top-10 teams for the first time since 1995. Kori Moster, earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was also named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski was named to the 16-member All-Big Ten team and Halle Peterson was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. It was also the first time since 1995 that two Spartans were named AVCA All-Americans in the same season. Wicinski received second-team honors and Moster earned honorable mention accolades. Wicinski ranked fourth in the NCAA in service aces per set with 0.63 and was seventh in the country in points per set with 5.33. Her mark of 4.43 kills per set also ranked 16th in the NCAA. Wicinski broke the single-season record for service aces at MSU with 81, breaking the previous record of 75 that had stood since 1983. Moster has already surpassed 1,000 career digs at MSU in just two seasons. Her mark of 602 in 2012 places her second all-time in a single season at Michigan State.
The Spartans made their way back to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the ninth trip for George and her fourth at the helm of MSU. Michigan State started the season with six straight wins and two tournament titles, winning the UCF Classic and the Spartan Showcase. MSU closed out the non-conference schedule by winning the Spartan Invitational and started off 11-1 before the beginning of conference play. The Michigan State seniors stole the show on Nov. 18, 2011 and propelled the Spartans to a 3-1 win against then-No. 7 Illinois. One of the largest crowds of the season at Jenison Field House witnessed one of the most thrilling matches of the season. Red-shirt sophomore Alexis Mathews, along with seniors Kyndra Abron, Jenilee Rathje and Becca Zlabis each tallied double-digit kills against the Fighting Illini. Rathje, one of the most decorated players in program history, was recognized as a third-team AVCA All-American and was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten First Team for the second straight season.
Rathje finished her career first in sets played with 496 and second in matches with 142. She also ended her career seventh in block assists with 333 and eighth in kills with 1,504. Fellow senior Kyndra Abron was also named to the All-Big Ten team as an honorable mention and was named to the COBRA Magazine Midwest All-Region Team. Abron was joined on the COBRA Magazine Midwest All-Region Team by red-shirt sophomore Alexis Mathews.
In 2009, the Spartans once again earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. MSU opened the campaign by winning its first 12 matches of the season, the third-best start to a year all-time and the best since the 1976 season. Along the way to the third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four seasons, the Green and White posted upset wins over then-No. 12 Southern California in the opening match of the year, as well as then-No. 12 Illinois in the Big Ten home opener. Sophomore Kyndra Abron became the first sophomore in program history to be named an AVCA All-America, earning an honorable mention selection. Abron also was just the third Spartan to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore; the others were Val Sterk (1994) and Jenna Wrobel (1996).
After losing 64-percent of the total offense from 2007, George was able to bring in the No. 7 recruiting class in - the best in MSU history - to help shoulder some of the burden and void left by the graduating class. That recruiting class helped George compile a 15-16 overall record in 2008, despite playing five freshmen at a time for most of the season. It was clear that although the record did not reflect it, George may have had one of her finest years as a collegiate coach in 2008.
George spent the spring of 2008 coaching the USA A2 Red team to the USA Adult Open Championship. The USA A2 Red Team topped the University of Washington's Huskies VBC team, 3-1, in Atlanta. George and University of Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott, the A2 Blue coach, conducted training of 20 selected collegiate student-athletes before the championships and split the student-athletes into two teams for competition. George's A2 Red Team took home the gold, while the Blue team finished with the bronze. This was George's second stint with USA Volleyball as she was an assistant coach for the US team at the 1999 World University Games.
George had arguably her best season at MSU in 2007, guiding the Spartans to the NCAA Regional Semifinals and a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten. Overall, MSU went 21-14. The 2007 Spartans entered postseason play in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003. Under George's guidance, senior Ashley Schatzle became the Spartans' seventh AVCA All-American as she led the team that season with 553 kills. George guided MSU to the 2006 NCAA Tournament in just her second year at the helm of the Spartan program. George led a rebuilding Spartan squad to a 19-12 overall record, including a 10-10 mark in Big Ten play. The Green and White made its first trip to postseason play since the 2003 campaign.
In George's first year as head coach, the Spartans finished the season with a 12-18 record, going 5-15 in conference action. George also saw three Big Ten Player of the Week honorees and two Third-Team 2006 ESPN Magazine Academic All-America Volleyball District IV Team members in 2005. Under George, heavy hitter Katie Johnson earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, fellow outside hitter Ashley Schatzle was named to the 2006 First Team All-Big Ten Team, and freshman middle blocker Vanessa King garnered 2006 All-Big Ten Freshman Team accolades. In addition, Johnson competed with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball A2 Program during the summer of 2007.
George was hired as the fifth coach in the history of Michigan State volleyball in December of 2004. George has earned conference coach of the year honors in every league in which she has coached before joining the MSU staff and the Big Ten Conference.
Prior to her hiring at Michigan State, George spent 11 years guiding the Western Michigan University program, where she compiled a 185-139 record. Taking over the reins at WMU prior to the 1994 season, George's Broncos qualified for eight NCAA Tournament appearances under her direction. George reached eight consecutive MAC Tournaments beginning with the 1997 campaign, and her Bronco squad made back-to-back MAC Tournament title match appearances in 1999 and 2000, capturing the title in 2000. George's student-athletes at WMU earned all-conference and national honors while enjoying academic success as well. George reached the 300-win mark in 2000, and was named the MAC Coach of the Year that same season after guiding the Broncos to the MAC title. She has also gained international experience as an assistant coach for the 1999 U.S. Team in the World University Games, held in Mallorca, Spain.
Sixteen players earned academic all-conference honors during her time at Western Michigan, while four players were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team. Her teams posted grade-point averages of 3.00, or better, and boasted a 100-percent graduation rate in 10 of her 11 seasons.
On the court, George recruited high-caliber student-athletes, as three WMU players trained with various U.S. national teams. In 1999, two players were honored with the chance to compete with the Pan Am Games Training Team, while another Bronco was selected to the 2001 U.S. National A2 team. Western Michigan's success under George led to increased attendance, as the Broncos led the MAC in total attendance in eight of her 11 seasons. She also worked to reinstate the Bronco Spikers' Club, which takes part in activities involving the team throughout the year, including pre-match chalk talks, tailgates and post-match wrap-ups.
Prior to her arrival at Western Michigan, George was the head coach at Texas-Arlington from 1989-1993. She led UTA to the 1989 and 1990 NCAA Tournaments, with a school-record third-place national finish in 1989.
While at Texas-Arlington, George became the first woman to coach in the NCAA Division I Final Four (1989) and she earned Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors three times (1989, 1990, `92) as she posted a record of 93-74 in her five seasons. George's teams won Southland Conference titles in 1989, 1990 and 1992, were 37-4 in conference play (.902) and finished with a 10-2 record in postseason competition during her tenure.
George got her start as a collegiate coach at North Dakota State in 1987-88, leading the Bison to an 87-11 (.888) record in her first two seasons. In 1987, NDSU posted a 44-8 mark en route to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships in her first season as a head coach. She was named North Central Conference and regional coach of the year in both 1987 and 1988 and earned NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year honors in 1988. Also in 1988, George led the Bison to a 43-3 mark and a third-place national finish.
A 1985 graduate of Illinois State, George helped the Redbirds win three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. A team captain and crafty outside attacker, she was a three-time All-MVC selection and earned all-region honors.
George, who earned her master's degree in education from Central Michigan in 1987, and her husband Jerry reside in Okemos, Mich., with their two sons, T.J., 20, and Conner, 15. T.J. is a junior pitcher on the baseball team at Concordia University.
The George Family: Jerry, T.J., Conner and Cathy.
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