The Spartans have achieved their highest national pre-season ranking since the 1997 pre-season survey, in which MSU debuted at No. 6. MSU was No. 16 in the final AVCA poll in 2012 after advancing to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Head Coach Cathy George's team finished the 2012 campaign with a 25-10 overall record (11-9 Big Ten, sixth) and defeated San Diego and defending National Champion UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.
Seven teams from the Big Ten appear in the pre-season Top 25 : Penn State No. 2, Minnesota No. 6, Michigan No. 7, Nebraska No. 10, MSU No. 14, Purdue No. 16, and Ohio State at No. 23. Illinois and Wisconsin are also receiving votes in the poll.
Michigan State returns two All-Americans - senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill.) and junior libero Kori Moster (Cincinnatti, Ohio). Wicinski is a three-time All-America and unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection a year ago who ranked fourth in the country in service aces per set (0.63) seventh in points per set (5.33) and 15th in kills per set (4.43). Moster is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and needs just 43 digs to move into the top 10 all-time at MSU in that category.
Joining that duo is senior Alexis Mathews (Detroit, Mich.), who competed with Wicinski and Moster at USA Volleyball's prestigious A2 program the last three summers. As a junior, Mathews was third in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in hitting percentage (.384),and tied for fifth in a single season at MSU and fourth in the Big Ten in blocks per set (1.23).
Two other seniors will help lead the way for the Spartans - setter Kristen Kelsay (Wheaton, Ill.) and middle blocker Kelsey Kuipers (Otsego, Mich.). MSU returns all but one starter from the 2012 team, and adds a recruiting class that was ranked seventh in the country by PrepVolleyball.com.
MSU has opened its preseason fall camp, and fans can get a first look at the team on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Green & White exhibition game. The Spartans officially open the season at the Hokie Invitational at Virginia Tech Aug. 30-31.