Aug. 29, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Spartan volleyball team travels to Storrs, Conn., for the University of Connecticut Classic this weekend. Michigan State will face Fairfield on Aug. 31, and will take on both Dartmouth and Connecticut on Sept. 1. The Spartans are 3-0 this season and are coming off their ninth straight Spartan Showcase title.
A Look at the Spartans
The Spartans hosted the Spartan Showcase last weekend and won the title for the ninth straight year. MSU beat McNeese State, Youngstown State and Eastern Kentucky. Junior Lauren Wicinski was named tournament MVP in her first action at Michigan State after transferring from Northern Illinois.
Michigan State took down McNeese State in record-setting fashion, allowing only 39 points in the 3-0 win. It was the fewest points allowed at Michigan State for a three-set match under the 25-point scoring system, the previous record was 43, set last season against North Florida. Kori Moster led the way defensively with 10 digs and Kristen Kelsay had 33 assists in the match. Lauren Wicinski notched five aces in a 25-10 win in the first set, setting the record for aces in a set.
The Spartans topped Youngstown State, 3-1, behind a career-high 46 assists from Kristen Kelsay and a double-double from Lauren Wicinski, who had 24 kills and 11 digs.
Michigan State defeated Eastern Kentucky, 3-0, in the championship match. Juniors Kelsey Kuipers and Alexis Mathews were both named to the all-tournament team and Lauren Wicinski received MVP honors.
Fairfield competed in the Duke Invitational last weekend and finished 0-3. The Stags dropped matches to Milwaukee, Duke, and William & Mary. Sophomore Caitlin Stapleton was named to the all-tournament team after recording 34 kills, 14 digs, and four blocks in three matches. Fairfield was picked to finish first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and both Stapleton and Racjhel Romansky were named to the Preseason All-MAAC team by league coaches.
Series History: The 2012 match will be the first meeting between Michigan State and Fairfield.
Coach: The Stags are coached by Alija Pittenger and she is in her fifth season as head coach. Last year, she was named the MAAC Coach of the Year. She is 72-55 while at Fairfield.
A Glance at Dartmouth
Dartmouth has yet to play a match in 2012 and finished last season 16-9 playing in the Ivy League. Senior setter Alissa Santa Maria earned All-Ivy Honorable Mention honors last season after leading the Big Green in assists with 676.
Series History: Michigan State and Dartmouth will meet for the first time in 2012.
Coach: Erin Lindsey is in her second season as the head coach of Dartmouth. In her first season with the Big Green, she led the team to a 16-9 mark overall and an 8-6 record in the Ivy League.
The Host Huskies
UConn opened their season last weekend with the LMU Invitational in Los Angeles Calif., and went 1-2. The Huskies dropped matches to Loyola Marymount and Iona, but defeated UC Santa Barbara. The Huskies were led offensively by senior Mattison Quayle with 35 kills at the LMU Invitational. Quayle was named the team's Most Valuable Player last season.
Series History: Michigan State leads the series, 1-0.
Last Meeting: The Spartans defeated Connecticut on Sept. 13, 2008, 3-0.
Coach: Holly Strauss-O'Brien is in her entering her eighth season as head coach of the Huskies. She owns an overall record of 108-97.
Record Setting Weekend
Michigan State won the Spartan Showcase for the ninth straight season and did so in record setting fashion. The Spartans took the first match over McNeese State, 3-0. MSU allowed only 39 points in the match, the fewest points allowed all-time at Michigan State under the 25-point scoring system. The previous record was 43, set last season against North Florida. The Spartans won by scores of 25-10, 25-17 and 25-12.
Junior Lauren Wicinski also set the record for most aces in a set against McNeese State, recording five in her first match at Michigan State after transferring from Northern Illinois.
Career-highs at the Showcase
Juniors Kristen Kelsay both set career-high marks at the Spartan Showcase last weekend. Kelsay recorded 46 assists in a 3-1 win over Youngstown State, besting her previous high of 44. Kuipers had 14 kills against Youngstown State, improving on her previous career high of 10.
Big Shoes to Fill
Michigan State lost All-Americans Jenilee Rathje and Kyndra Abron to graduation, along with Natalie Emro, Becca Zlabis and Carli Weiler. The five seniors accounted for 72 percent of the kills from a season ago and MSU will rely on a mix of young and veteran talent to fill the void.
Pre-Season All-Conference Honors
Junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team announced by the conference on Thursday, Aug. 16.
Mathews is the fourth Spartan in as many seasons to be named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. She led the team in blocks last season with 155 and was fourth in the conference. Currently, she is second all-time at Michigan state in career blocks per set with 1.27.
All-American on the Outside
The Spartans welcome Lauren Wicinski, an outside hitter and transfer from Northern Illinois. She was a two-time All-American for the Huskies and became the first two-time All-American in MAC history. She was also a two-time MAC Player of the Year and led the nation in points (6.18) and kills (5.34) per set, and was third in aces (0.57) last season. She is currently a junior and is eligible to play immediately at Michigan State.
National A2 Program
Michigan State was well represented once again at the
Women's Volleyball National A2 Program. Amy Dentlinger, Alexis Mathews and Lauren Wicinski were each selected to participate. Wicinski earned a silver medal, competing for the USA Gold team, which lost 3-0 to USA White in the championship match. Wicinski was second on the team with eight kills on 22 attempts in the final match.
It was the second straight season in which three Spartans were invited to the A2 program. Last year, Mathews was joined by Jenilee Rathje and Carli Weiler.