Sept. 19, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 25 Michigan State opens the Big Ten season against No. 17 Purdue and Indiana this weekend at home at Jenison Field House. The Spartans will face the Boilermakers on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. and square off against the Hoosiers on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. Before the match against Purdue, MSU will recognize Jenilee Rathje for her All-America accomplishments in 2011 and her banner will be revealed in the rafters at Jenison Field House.
A Look at the Spartans
The Spartans are coming off its fourth pre-conference tournament title after winning the Holiday Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant Invitational. Michigan State beat Presbyterian, Georgetown and the College of Charleston to remain undefeated on the season and tie the third best start in program history at 12-0. Lauren Wicinski notched her third tournament MVP of the season and both Alexis Mathews and Kori Moster were named to the all-tournament teams.
On Friday, Michigan State swept Presbyterian 3-0 by scores of 25-15, 25-21 and 26-16. The Spartans struggled offensively, hitting only .245 percent in the match, but were able to hold the Blue Hose to a hitting percentage of just .090.
Michigan State swept Georgetown, 3-0, in its second match of the Holiday Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant Invitational in Charleston, S.C. Michigan State hit .408 percent in the match and Amy Dentlinger, Taylor Galloway and Lauren Wicinski each recorded double-digit kills against the Hoyas.
The Spartans defeated the College of Charleston, 3-1, to win the invitational and Lauren Wicinski led Michigan State with 23 kills and had a .514 hitting percentage in the match.
No. 17 Purdue is 9-2 on the season and is coming off its second tournament title of the season. The Boilermakers defeated Jacksonville State, UAB and Bowling Green this past weekend. Purdue is led offensively by senior Ariel Turner and her 3.94 kills per set. Junior Carly Cramer averages 4.32 digs per set for Purdue.
Series History: MSU trails the series, 28-46.
Last Meeting: Purdue defeated Michigan State 3-1 on Oct. 29, 2011.
Coach: Dave Shondell is entering his 10th year at the helm of the Purdue volleyball program after leading the team to seven NCAA Tournament berths in the last eight years.
The Hoosiers are 8-4 on the season and recorded wins over Miami and Chattanooga over the weekend but also fell to Valparaiso. Indiana's Jordan Haverly averages 3.96 kills per set and Katie Gallagher leads the Big Ten with 11.49 assists per set.
Series History: The Spartans lead the series, 43-28.
Last Meeting: MSU defeated Indiana 3-1 on Oct. 26, 2011.
Coach: Sherry Dunbar is in her sixth season at the helm of the Indiana volleyball program, she has a career winning percentage of .646 (194-106).
Michigan State will have several promotions running this weekend for both matches on Friday and Saturday.
Friday: MSUFCU Night, credit union members and a guest get into the match free by showing their membership card or credit card. Friday is also Res Life Challenge night and students get in free. Those living on campus will be entered in a drawing depending on which neighborhood they live in for the chance to win a tailgate spot for the football game against Nebraska on Nov. 3.
Saturday: Free admission for fans who show their football ticket stub from the EMU game.
Breaking into the Rankings
Michigan State is ranked No. 25 this week in the AVCA coaches poll and it is the first time the Spartans have been ranked since being ranked No. 18 on Oct. 11, 2009. MSU boasts a 157-57 record when ranked in the top 25.
Stacking Up Across the Country
Junior Lauren Wicinski leads the nation in aces per set with 0.75, is fourth in points per set with 5.70 and is 12th in kills per set with 4.55. Junior Alexis Mathews is also fourth in the country in hitting percentage with .465. As a team, MSU is fourth in aces per set (1.95), second in hitting percentage (.336) and third in kills per set (15.03).
Leading the Big Ten
Michigan State leads the conference in kills with 15.02 per set and in service aces with 1.95 per set. MSU is also second in hitting percentage (.336) and second in opponent hitting percentage (.132). The Spartans are also third in assists with 13.55 per set.
Individually, Lauren Wicinski leads the Big Ten in kills, service aces and points. Wicinski is averaging 4.55 kills per set, 0.75 service aces per set and 5.70 points per set.
Defensive Player of the Week
Junior middle blocker Alexis Mathews was been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, as announced by the conference office on Monday, Sept. 17. Mathews averaged 1.70 blocks per set and also had 2.6 kills per set. She recorded 17 blocks over the weekend and was named to the named to the Charleston Invitational All-Tournament Team. Mathews is the second MSU player to receive conference recognition this season. Sophomore Kori Moster garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, Sept. 3.
Jenilee Rathje, a 2011 Third-Team AVCA All-American, will be recognized before the match against No. 17 Purdue on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. and will have her All-America banner revealed in the rafters at Jenison Field House. Along with being an All-American, Rathje was also twice named to the All-Big Ten First Team and was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor last year. The Big Ten Medal of Honor is given to one male and female graduating athlete from each Big Ten institution that has attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.
Approaching a Milestone
Head coach Cathy George is closing in on her 500th career win. George currently has a record of 498- 328 during her 26 years of coaching and is in her eighth year at MSU. George has also compiled wins at North Dakota State, Texas-Arlington, and Western Michigan. She would become the 34th active coach with 500 career wins.
Quick Out of the Gate
Michigan State at 12-0, is off to its third best start in program history. The mark of 12-0 ties the 2009 start. The Spartans best start was in 1975 when they began the season at 19-0 mark in 1975. It ties the best start during head coach Cathy George's tenure.
Matches on BTN.com
In addition to two road matches that will be aired on the Big Ten Network, MSU will also have three home matches that will air on BTN.com. The Spartans will be featured against Ohio State on Oct. 20, Minnesota on Nov. 9 and Wisconsin on Nov. 10. Michigan State will be on the Big Ten Network on Sept. 26 at Nebraska and Oct. 5 at Wisconsin.
Freshman Making an Impact
Setter Halle Peterson had a great weekend at the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational and recorded her first career double-double with 27 kills and 12 digs in a 3-2 win over IPFW. Peterson has notched more than 10 assists in seven of nine matches this season.
Fifth Different All-Tournament Honoree
Senior Amy Dentlinger and Kori Moster were both named to the All-Tournament team at the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational and Lauren Wicinski added MVP honors. Dentlinger was the fifth different Spartan to earn all-tournament honors this season, joining Kelsey Kuipers, Alexis Mathews, Kori Moster and Lauren Wicinski.
Fewest Points Allowed
Michigan State broke the school record for fewest points allowed in a three-set match for the second time this season. At the UConn Classic, MSU gave up just 35 points in a 3-0 win over Dartmouth. The previous record of 39 was set this season against McNeese State at the Spartan Showcase on Aug. 24. MSU won by scores of 25-9, 25-17 and 25-9 vs. Dartmouth. Before this season, the previous record was 43, set a year ago against North Florida.
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 has relied on a mix of young and veteran talent to fill the void.
Spartan Sports Network
MSU volleyball will be featured six times this season on the Spartan Sports Network and fans can access the free radio broadcast at SpartanSportsNetwork.com. The games that will be broadcasted are Purdue on Sept. 21, Indiana on Sept. 22, Northwestern on Oct. 12, Illinois on Oct. 13, Iowa on Nov. 2 and Nebraska on Nov. 3.