Volleyball Heads To West Coast For Season-Opening USC Invitational

Aug. 21, 2007

Michigan State volleyball kicks off the 2007 season traveling to Los Angeles, Calif., for the 2007 USC Trojan Invitational Aug. 24-25. Making up the tournament field is host Southern California, Loyola Marymount and St. John's. Tuesday the Spartans held their Media Day at Jenison Field House in preparation for the 2007 campaign.

Head Coach Cathy George Media Day Podcast
Senior Miken Trogdon Media Day Podcast
Senior Jessica Hohl Media Day Podcast
MSU's Complete USC Invitational Media Notes | USC Invitational Website

Third-year Head Coach Cathy George feels confident in her team's ability heading into the opening weekend of the 2007 season.

On the 2007 team:
With Ashley Schatzle and Katie Johnson on our outside and Miken Trogdon holding down the back court for us, we are very solid. Those seniors kind of pave the way for the season to steady out. We have a freshman setter so we're a little bit young in that position; kind of like a true freshman quarterback. That makes it a little interesting. But Lauren O'Reilly comes to us from British Columbia, Canada, and she was on the Junior National team and has a lot of experience in that way. She's going to have to go through the rigors of the Big Ten season but also starting off at USC where we play the No. 6 team in the country right off the bat.

On the strength of the Spartans' non-conference schedule:
It's a pretty tough pre-conference schedule, probably the toughest we've had since I've been here. We look to go into it, knock it out and prepare for the Big Ten season.

On building on last season's successes:
We felt very good about where we ended up last year. We had a senior Allison Ianni setting for the team; now we have a freshman in that role. Everybody else comes back with more experience, but we have a freshman starting in that very key position. If in fact Lauren [O'Reilly] can steady herself and set in the system that we're looking for, we can see the same happen. She's very athletic and she's a very confident player, but we also know that it's a tough, long season. There will be the rigors of that season. How she adapts to that and handles that has a lot to do with what we're able to do as a team.

On returning to the NCAA Tournament:
Every year we look to get to the NCAA Tournament so that we can continue to fight for the Final Four. It's so important to gain experience every time you play; every season you want to go further and further. It's all about getting as far as you possibly can and gaining that experiencing from the NCAA Tournament so that you can prepare to go beyond.

In addition, senior defensive specialist Miken Trogdon looks forward to building on last season's success with a solid core of returning teammates as well as promising freshmen.

On opening the 2007 campaign against top-ranked opponents:
I feel like by going off and starting off against quality non-conference opponents, we can prepare ourselves for pretty much the war that we go into, so to speak, all year [in Big Ten play].

On returning to the NCAA Tournament:
I think we need to return to the tournament for sure, and we're also looking to advance through the first round. We've got all of our returning letterwinners that have tournament experience now so I think that puts us in a good position to advance farther once we get there.

Below are a few notes on the Spartans...

Scouting the Spartans
MSU volleyball opens the 2007 season returnning eight letterwinners and welcoming five newcomers. Senior outside hitters Ashley Schatzle and Katie Johnson highlight the attack, while senior defensive specialist Miken Trogdon anchors the backcourt. Johnson was named to this year's Preseason All-Big Ten Team for the second consecutive year, and Schatzle was a 2006 All-Big Ten honoree. Two Spartans battle for the starting setter position, true freshmen Lauren O'Reilly and Megan Schatzle.

Season Openers In the 35 seasons of Spartan volleyball, State has gone 23-11 (no data available for the 1972 season) in season openers, including a 10-0 mark the past 10 seasons. MSU starts off its 2007 season against No. 6 Southern California, when the Spartans look to defeat the Trojans for the first time in program history, after suffering five straight losses thus far in the series.

Preseason Picks
The Michigan State volleyball team was selected seventh in the Big Ten preseason poll. In addition, Spartan outside hitter Katie Johnson was selected to the 12-member Preseason All-Big Ten Team for the second time in her career.

Right Side - Strong Side!
Spartan outside hitter Ashley Schatzle played a critical role in both Michigan State victories over Michigan in 2006. Schatzle had a breakout performance in the first contest between the two schools (Oct. 11). She contributed 8.00 kills per game, and garnered Big Ten Player of the Week accolades for her performance. In the final meeting of the year (11/22), Schatzle tallied a floor-best 22 kills on 45 attempts (.378) to lead State to its first season sweep over the Wolverines since the 1998 campaign.

Lasting Mark
Libero Nicole Colaluca ended her MSU career ranked first in Spartan history with 5.08 career digs per game, and second in the single-season record book with 4.71 digs per game, trailing only her own record set in 2005 (5.41). Setter Allison Ianni also left a lasting mark on the Spartan record book in just one season with the team. The former Okemos High School standout finished her MSU career ranked first in Spartan history with 13.11 assists per game.

The `King' Of The Net
Middle blocker Vanessa King posted one of the best defensive performances by a freshman in Michigan State history during her rookie campaign. She saw action in all 31 matches, and finished the year ranked third with 87 block assists and tied for fifth with 1.00 blocks per game in the MSU freshman record book.

Spartan Leaders
Outside hitter Katie Johnson led the Spartan offense with 4.68 kills per game last season, while outside hitter Ashley Schatzle was just behind with 4.57 kpg. In her first season in the Green and White, setter Allison Ianni tallied 1,377 assists, directing State to a .275 attack percentage for the year. Miken Trogdon posted a team-high 0.27 aces per game, libero Nicole Colaluca anchored the Spartan backcourt with 4.71 digs per game, and Jessica Hohl led MSU at the net with 1.02 blocks per game (9BS-98BA).