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George Wins No. 251 at MSU As Spartans Sweep Northwestern

Nov. 11, 2017

Box Score | PDF Box: MSU 3, Northwestern 0

WATCH: Highlights vs. Northwestern

 Michigan State Women's Volleyball Online
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Michigan State head coach Cathy George became the winningest coach in program history, recording her 251st victory as the Spartan mentor with a 3-0 win (25-18, 26-24, 25-9) over visiting Northwestern on Saturday at Jenison Field House. MSU improves to 19-6, 12-4 in Conference action, and Northwestern is now 14-14, 4-12 B1G.

MSU had another strong hitting night, (45-8-93), hitting .398 to tie its best this season in a Big Ten match. Northwestern hit .360 and .281 in the first two sets, but had just seven kills against five errors in the third set to drop their game percentage to .225. Each team had five blocks.

Holly Toliver had an impressive effort, hitting .522 with 13 kills, tying her career best with six service aces - including three straight in the third set to close out the match. She also had two blocks and seven digs. Alyssa Garvelink had eight kills and no errors, hitting .615 with three blocks. Rachel Minarick had 34 assists, six digs, a pair of aces, and hit .556 (5-0-9).

Nia Robinson led Northwestern with 11 kills, while Alana Walker and Symone Abbot each finished with seven for the Wildcats.

The first two sets were kept tight by the WIldcats, who refused to let the Spartans run away with five- or six-point leads. In the final set, MSU hit .448 and got five kills and five aces from Toliver in that frame alone as she outscored the visitors, 10-9. She also had five digs in the set.

Michigan State heads to Michigan on Wednesday for a midweek match that will settle the 2017 battle for the State Pride Flag. MSU has just four games remaining in the regular season, with the lone home match next Saturday vs. Indiana where MSU will honor its seven seniors.

"We had a little talk in the set break about being more purposeful and closing things out. We didn't do a good job of that in the first two sets, and its very important as we wind down toward the end of the season that we are detail-oriented and pay attention to all the little things. I thought we did a much better job of that and closed out the third set after a pretty strong performance - we hit nearly .450 and finished with a team hitting percentage of almost .400 for the match.
        As for the milestone - its a little bit of being a veteran coach with the opportunity to be here for a good amount of time. Mostly, I think about all of the players, administrators, coaches, and support staff that helped us build this program. There are so many people who have played important roles, and it's just not possible to thank everyone individually. It means a lot to me in that we have built this program and are successful in the toughest conference in college volleyball, and that we're producing student-athletes who succeed at a high level both on and off the court. To me, that's what makes the milestone so special."

- Head Coach Cathy George


  • Holly Toliver produced 13 kills and hit .522, adding seven digs, two blocks, and tying her career best with six service aces.
  • Alyssa Garvelink posted wight kills and hit .615 (8-0-13), and added three blocks.
  • Rachel Minarick had 34 assists, two aces, hit .556 (5-0-9), and added six digs.


  • Toliver had five kills, five aces, and five digs in the third set alone, outscoring the entire Northwestern team, which was limited to just nine points.
  • MSU tied its Big Ten -season best with a .398 hitting percentage, which it also accomplished in the second match of the Conference season vs. Ohio State.
  • The Spartans won their third straight match.
  • George became MSU's all-time winningest coach, passing Annelies Knoppers, who won 250 games from 1974-84. Chuck Erbe had 244 wins in his 12 seasons.



  • SET ONE: The teams traded points almost exclusively in the early part of the first set, as each squad scored consecutive points just once and held a two-point lead. Northwestern called its first time out when MSU went up 9-7, and the Spartans came out of the break and pushed it to a seven-point edge (16-9) on a 6-2 run, with three of those points coming off Wildcat errors. The Spartans won the race to 20 holding that seven-point lead, but that started a 4-1 run for the WIldcats (two kills from Symone Abbott) to trim their deficit to four points. After an MSU time out, setter Taylor Tashima served into the net to give the Spartans the side out, and brought MSU within three points of a first set win. Toliver and Garvelink got MSU to set point at 24-18, and a Garvelink solo block sealed the victory, 25-18. Toliver was the hot hand in the frame, putting down six kills on eight swings and adding a dig; Garvelink had four kills on five swings and added the solo block on set point.  
  • SET TWO: A point-for-point battle was the storyline in the early part of the second set, just as it was in the first. MSU took the first multiple-point lead for either team at 8-6, and then made it a five-point game at 12-7 before Northwestern called their second time out of the set. MSU came out of the break with a pair of Minarick aces sandwiched around a NU error that made it 15-7. MSU won the race to 20 and had a 20-13 edge, but the Wildcats fought back into it to make it a 20-16. The teams traded points, and MSU held a 23-20 lead after Minarick dumped it over the net on two to get the side out. MSU let the Wildcats pull within one (23-22) on a pair of errors, forcing a Spartan time out. A block at the left pin tied the match at 23-23, but Garvelink stopped the run with a big swing a the right side. A service error tied the match 24-24, but Kranda sent a shot down the left line to give MSU set point. Kranda served for set point, and Northwestern got a big swing from Nia Robinson. Minarick got a piece of it, and Jamye Cox made an impressive play in front of her own bench to keep the ball off the floor, allowing Bailey to send a free ball over the net. Alana Walker tried to put one down to extend the match, but Bailey put up a solo block to end the second frame the same way the first one finished. Bailey had four kills and three digs, while both Garvelink and Minarick posted three kills. The Spartans hit .364 after a .387 performance in the first set, while limiting Northwestern to .281 after the Wildcats hit .360 in the opening set.  
  • SET THREE: Tied 3-3, the Spartans went on an 8-0 run with Toliver on the service line, which included a pair of aces for the senior. MSU's lead moved out to 10 points (16-6) after Toliver's 11th kill of the night, all against no errors. Toliver's 13th kill of the night gave MSU a 21-9 edge, which was the first of five straight for MSU to close it out by a 25-9 score in the third frame - Toliver had five kills and five digs to that point of the match, and she stepped to the service line with that 21-9 lead. A kill by Meredith Norris made it 22-9, and Toliver delivered three straight service aces to ice the win for MSU. The senior had five of her six aces on the night in that final set to go with five kills and five digs. The Spartans got three kills from Kranda and two each from Norris and Minarick, and the setter added 10 assists as MSU hit .448.


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