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Women's Volleyball
Volleyball Set To Host Spartan Invitational
The Spartans open tournament play against Eastern Michigan, Friday at Noon.
The Spartans open tournament play against Eastern Michigan, Friday at Noon.

Aug. 31, 2006


Spartan Invitational Tournament Notes

Eastern Michigan Match Gametracker Link
Villanova Match Gametracker Link
Miami (Fla.) Gametracker Link

Radio - Michigan State Live Audio - John Kreger (PBP)

The Michigan State volleyball team is set to host the 2006 Spartan Invitational, Sept. 1-2, at Jenison Field House. The tournament field includes Eastern Michigan, MSU, Miami (Fla.) and Villanova. The Spartans will face EMU in the opening game of the weekend, Friday at Noon.

Scouting the Spartans Michigan State swept Ball State and Xavier and defeated IPFW, 3-1, to win the 2006 Ball State Nike/Active Ankle Weekend in Muncie, Ind., Aug. 25-26. MSU lost just one game in weekend play and claimed its 10th consecutive season-opening victory. Junior Katie Johnson was named the tournament's MVP, while seniors Nicole Colaluca and Allison Ianni also garnered all-tournament accolades.

The Week Ahead MSU will host the 2006 Spartan Invitational at Jenison Field House Sept. 1-2. Eastern Michigan, Miami (Fla.) and Villanova will take part in the two-day event. State opens tournament play against EMU at noon on Sept. 1.

Season Openers In 35 seasons of Spartan volleyball, Michigan State is 23-11 (no data available for the 1972 season) in season openers, including an undefeated record the past 10 seasons after defeating IPFW in the 2006 opener on Aug. 25.

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 first time in her career. The league's head coaches chose the Spartans seventh in the 2006 poll, which is two spots up from a ninth-place preseason ranking in 2005.

Schedule Note This season, Michigan State will face six teams that competed in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, (Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Purdue and Minnesota) including five (Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Minnesota) that were ranked in the final poll by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

Spartan Honors Outside hitter Katie Johnson was named the Ball State Nike/Active Ankle Weekend Tournament MVP, while setter Allison Ianni and libero Nicole Colaluca also garnered all-tournament accolades.

Quick Note Head coach Cathy George spent 11 seasons at the helm of the Western Michigan volleyball program prior to her appointment at MSU in 2004. During her time with the Broncos, a member of the Mid-American Conference West Division, George amassed a 13-10 record against Spartan Invitational opponent, and fellow MAC West Division competitor, Eastern Michigan. She last defeated the Eagles in the quarterfinals of the 2004 MAC Tournament (3-0).

Strong Start Michigan State lost its first game against IPFW but rebounded to win three straight to defeat the Mastodons in the 2006 season opener. Junior Katie Johnson pounded a match-high 25 kills in the contest while setter Allison Ianni posted 55 assists and Tracy Bellwood served six aces for the Green and White, giving MSU its 10th consecutive season-opening victory.

Homecoming Debut Spartan setter Allison Ianni, a former Okemos High School standout, played her first match in the Green and White last weekend after transfering from the University of the Pacific last January. The senior tallied her second career triple-double (11 kills-55 assists-10 digs), and the first Spartan triple-double since the 2000 season, against the Mastodons.

Serving Ace Junior defensive specialist Tracy Bellwood tallied a career-high six aces in MSU's win versus IPFW last weekend. The mark was the highest Spartan total for a four-game match since Emily Engel accomplished the feat during the 2001 season. In the three matches combined against IPFW, Xavier and Ball State, MSU tallied 20 aces compared to just four by its opponents.

Net Chatter Spartan freshmen Vanessa King and Mischelle Nelson saw significant time on the court and tallied impressive numbers in their respective collegiate debuts. The duo averaged 1.90 and 2.43 kpg, respectively, while King added 1.20 bpg and Nelson 1.29 bpg.

By The Numbers Offensively, the Spartans dominated at the Ball State Nike/Active Ankle Weekend, posting a higher kills-per-game average (18.9/11.7), assists-per-game average (17.8/11.1) and aces-per-game average (2.0/0.4) than its opponents. The same held true defensively as MSU tallied a higher block-per-game average (3.15/1.90), and dig-per-game average (18.2/14.2).

TV Airtime Michigan State will compete in 10 televised matches this season. Nine of those matches will be tape delayed on Comcast Local, while MSU's Nov. 10 contest against Indiana will be tape delayed on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Next In Line State will travel to Columbus, Ohio, next weekend to take part in the 2006 Buckeye Invitational hosted by Ohio State University. MSU opens tournament play against Arizona State on Friday, Sept. 8, at 4:30 p.m. and concludes the two-day event with a 3:30 p.m. match versus Tennessee Tech on Saturday, Sept. 9.

35 and Counting The 2006 season marks the 35th season in Spartan volleyball history. Carol Davis was the first head coach in the history of the program during the 1972 season and led the Spartans through the 1973 campaign. Current head coach Cathy George is the fifth head coach in MSU volleyball history. Before calling Jenison Field House its home prior to the 1991 season, Spartan volleyball played its home contests at IM West.

The Double-Digit Duo The dynamic double-digit duo of Katie Johnson and Nicole Colaluca posted impressive numbers in 2005. Colaluca tallied double-digit dig totals in all of the Spartans' 30 matches last season, including 15 contests with at least 20 digs, three matches with an above-30 total, and set a new Spartan record with a 45-dig effort vs. Sacramento State on Sept. 17. Johnson tallied double-digit kill totals in 26 of 29 matches in 2005. She posted 15 matches with at least 20 kills, including a career-high 33 versus VCU on Sept. 10 and 30 versus Illinois on Oct. 28.

Career Marks A number of Spartans made their mark in the Spartan record book in 2005. After stepping into the setter role for her final season, Mickey Davis finished her career in the Green and White ranked ninth with a career average of 7.47 assists per game and claimed 10th place on the career assist chart with 1,539. Defensive specialist Marley Bellwood finished her career ranked eighth all-time with a 2.78 dig-per-game average, while she ranked 11th all-time with 1,071 career digs.

Head Coach Cathy George Spartan head coach Cathy George finished her first season at the helm of the Michigan State program with a 12-18 overall record, including a 5-15 Big Ten Conference mark. George enters the 2006 campaign ranked as one of the 50 winningest coaches in NCAA Division I (377 wins) and is one of the top 80 coaches in NCAA Division I history with a career .609 winning percentage. In 1989, she was the first female head coach to lead a team to the NCAA Final Four when she did so in just her first season at Texas-Arlington.

State Pride Flag Despite a valiant effort by the Spartans in 2005, the Michigan Wolverines captured another State Pride Flag by winning both matches between the two schools last season. The win marks the fourth straight for the conference rival, as the Spartans captured their last flag during the 2001 season.

Record Breaker, Record Maker Nicole Colaluca was a new member of the Spartan squad in 2005 and set three new MSU defensive records in her first season. She ranks first in the career record book with a 5.41 dig-per-game average, and set new single-match records for digs in a three-game match (28 versus Purdue, Oct. 7) and five-game match (45 versus Sacramento State, Sept. 17).

Numbers Game Michigan State posted a higher kills-per-game average (16.03/13.94), a higher assists-per-game average (14.78/12.88) and a better digs-per-game average (15.62/13.53) than its opponents a year ago. Despite its offensive dominance, MSU struggled defensively. Opponents posted a 3.00 total block-per-game average compared to a 2.00 effort by the Spartan defense. When out-blocked by its opponents, State posted a 5-17 record.




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