Big Ten Play Begins on the Road for MSU
Spartans Take on Two Top-Five Teams
|Big Ten Week One: MSU at No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 1 Minnesota|
|Dates/Times|| Fri., Sept. 22 at Wisconsin, 8 pm ET (7 CT)
Sunday., Sept. 24 at Minnesota, 1 pm ET (12 CT)
|Location|| Friday: Madison, Wis. UW Field House |
Sunday: Minneapolis, Minn. Maturi Pavilion
|Live Statistics||at Wisconsin | at Minnesota|
|Television||vs. Minnesota: ESPN|
|Live Video Streams||vs. Wisconsin | vs. Minnesota|
|Radio|| SpartanSportsNetwork.com |
John Kreger, pxp
|Download Game Notes||Michigan State | Wisconsin | Minnesota|
|Cathy George Weekly Press Conference||Watch|
|Social Media||@MichStVB | Facebook|
Michigan State puts non-conference play in the rear-view mirror and looks ahead to a pair of matches at No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Minnesota to start Big Ten play.
MSU will have a radio broadcast of all matches - home and away - throughout the rest of the season. John Kreger returns behind the mic for the call on SpartanSportsNetwork.com.
Live statistics for both matches will be available via Gametracker, accessible on MSUSpartans.com.
Friday's game at Wisconsin will air on BTN2Go, while Sunday's action will air live on ESPN. Sam Gore and Dain Blanton will call the match in Minneapolis against the Gophers.
Michigan State is among teams receiving votes in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll. MSU began the season at No. 17 and was No. 23 in last week's survey. Minnesota and Wisconsin are both spending their second consecutive weeks at No. 1 and No. 5, respectively.
The Spartans went 7-2 in non-conference action, dropping true road contests at Georgia Tech and (RV) Notre Dame. The Spartans won two of the three tournaments they played, and had one entire weekend of games (at No. 2 Florida, and against American and UNC-Greensboro) washed out due to Hurricane Irma.
The Big Ten again promises to be the pacesetter in Division I volleyball this season, despite losing the most 2016 All-Americans (9) to graduation of any conference in the country. The Big Ten returns 17 2016 All-Americans, six more than the Big 12 (11) and seven more than the Pac-12 and SEC (10 each).
The Big Ten went a combined 128-27 in non-conference action (.826), just edging out the Pac-12 (104-22, .825). The SEC also won more than 100 games, going 105-40 (.724).
The Badgers hold a 49-26 edge in the all-time series with Michigan State, including five straight wins in the series. The two teams met just once in each of the last three seasons, and will meet in Madison for the third straight time. MSU had won four straight in the series before UW's five-game stretch of victories.
Last year, the teams met just once in Madison, with the home team taking a 3-0 victory. MSU was led by Autumn Bailey with 10 kills and eight digs, setter Rachel Minarick had 25 assists, three kills, seven digs, and four blocks, and Alyssa Garvelink had nine kills, hit .353, and added five blocks. Freshman Molly Haggerty led the Badgers with 14 kills, while Tionna Williams had five kills and a team-best six blocks.
The MSU-Wisconsin matchup puts sisters Maddie (MSU) and Molly (UW) Haggerty on opposite sides of the net. The two have never faced off in a collegiate match: Maddie had to sit out the 2016 MSU season due to NCAA transfer rules during Molly's freshman campaign in Madison.
MSU trails the all-time series vs. Minnesota, 18-53. The teams have engaged in some dramatic matches in recent seasons - including trading home victories last year, each by 3-2 scores. In East Lansing, No. 14 Michigan State outlasted the No. 3 Gophers (12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13). Alyssa Garvelink had a career-best 18 kills and added a season-high 10 blocks. Rachel Minarick finished one assist shy of her career best with 54 helpers for MSU, adding six digs and three blocks; her counterpart Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 50 assists for Minnesota. Gopher Sarah Wilhite had 20 kills and 19 digs. In the rematch at the Sports Pavilion, MSU rallied from a 2-0 deficit before falling in extra points in the fifth frame (17-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-19, 16-18). The had two double-doubles, as Bailey had 11 kills and 15 digs, and Minarick had 55 assists, 11 digs, and three kills. Alexis Hart had a match-high 20 kills, and Wilhite added 18 kills.
MSU is holding opponents to a .106 hitting percentage, which ranks first in the Big Ten and third nationally. Corpus Christi hit .211 (9/2) - the high for the nine opponents MSU has faced. MSU has held five of nine opponents to under .100 this season.
The Spartans lead the Big Ten and rank 12th nationally in service aces (1.82 per set), while ranking third in the conference and 11th nationally in blocks (3.05/s). MSU is also in the top 40 nationally in digs (16.82, 37th), kills (13.96, 39th), and assists (13.07, 39th).
MSU has 51 service aces on the season (good for first in the Big Ten), and has allowed just 24.
Notre Dame out-blocked MSU last Friday night (Sept. 15), 13.5-13.0. It was just the second time this season that MSU had fewer blocks than its opponent and is 0-2 in those matches (Georgia Tech held a 12-7 margin in the Aug. 26 matchup).
The Spartans hit a season-low .101 vs. Notre Dame - but held the Irish to an .064 hitting percentage that evening. MSU held an edge in kills (38-36), digs (72-66) and assists (36-32). The match featured 24 tie scores and eight lead changes.
The Spartan senior class was the No. 6 recruiting class in the country back in 2014, while the current freshman class was ranked No. 9 this past summer by PrepVolleyball.
Cathy George celebrated her 600th career victory with the 3-0 sweep of San Diego State (Sept. 1), and needs 11 to become the all-time winningest coach in Spartan history. Annelies Knoppers won 250 games from 1974-84, and Chuck Erbe was 244-140 in his 12-year tenure (1993-2004). George is 239-165 at MSU.
George becomes the third Big Ten head coach to amass 600 wins, along with Penn State's Russ Rose (1,218) and Wisconsin's John Cook (632). She ranks 22nd among active coaches in coaching victories.
All seven of MSU's victories this season have come by 3-0 scores. The Green and White owned 18 three-set victories in 34 matches last season. The Spartans went 18-6 in three-set matches overall, 5-0 in four-setters, and were 2-3 in their five-set affairs.
The Spartans are one of just three Big Ten programs to finish .500 or better in Big Ten play in each of the last six seasons -- Penn State and Nebraska are the other two.
Michigan State shattered single-game and a pair of single-season attendance records last season. MSU had a program best 6,838 fans for Jam Jenison on Nov. 12 vs. Michigan, and ranked sixth in the country in both total attendance (53,895) and average attendance (2,994), both program bests. Before the 2017 pre-season camp began, MSU had established a new program mark with more than 1,000 season tickets sold.
The Spartans return three AVCA All-America selections: Seniors Alyssa Garvelink (Second Team, 2016), Autumn Bailey (Honorable Mention, 2013, 2014, 2016), and Rachel Minarick (Honorable Mention, 2014).
In six of nine matches this season, the Spartans have gone with an all-senior starting lineup: OH's Autumn Bailey, Brooke Kranda, and Holly Toliver, MB's Alyssa Garvelink and Megan Tompkins, setter Rachel Minarick, and libero Abby Monson. In the games vs. Corpus Christi and Central Michigan, sophomore setter Maggie Midgette got the nod, dishing out a career-best 38 assists in each game, a pair of 3-0 sweeps.
MSU boasts four players averaging between 2.79 and 3.07 kills per set, and five starters are hitting .239 or better.
Alyssa Garvelink and Holly Toliver were named to the All-Tournament Team at Notre Dame's Shamrock Invitational last weekend. Garvelink averaged 2.89 kills and 1.89 blocks per frame, hitting .339 over nine sets. Toliver led the Spartans with 3.56 kills and added 1.33 digs and 0.56 blocks per set on the weekend.
Garvelink now has three straight All-Tournament Team selections to her credit this season, as she was also named the Hyatt Regency Invitational at Georgia Tech MVP and to the All-Tournament Team at the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational. She has earned All-Tournament Team honors in eight of MSU's last 10 pre-Big Ten tournaments dating back to her sophomore season.
Garvelink was a Second-team All-American in 2016, and is likely to graduate as one of MSU's top blockers in school history. She currently ranks Sixth all-time at MSU in total blocks (459) and sixth in block assists (411). Her 1.22 blocks per set average over four years is fourth all-time at MSU.
Garvelink currently second in the B1G and third nationally in the B1G in blocks per set (1.89), which is her career-best average. Her hitting percentage of .391 is also a career best and ranks eighth in the Conference, and she's contributing 2.79 kills/set.
Garvelink is fifth among active NCAA Division I players in total career blocks (459), and is 11th in blocks per set (1.22).
Toliver currently leads MSU with 3.07 kills per set and contributing 1.89 digs and 0.48 blocks per frame. She is one off the team lead with 13 service aces - her 0.48 per set ranks third in the Big Ten and 33rd nationally.
Toliver hit a season-best .444 vs. Southern Illinois, (8-0-18). She also had a season high in kills (13) the night prior vs. the host Irish.
Brooke Kranda averages 2.88 kills per set, and is 12th in the Big Ten with 1.19 blocks per set. The Westfield, Ind. native is hitting .258 on the season and averaging 0.36 aces per frame, good for 12th in the Big Ten in that category.
Kranda put up a team-high seven blocks at Notre Dame (Sept. 15), which also established a new career high.
Autumn Bailey currently is third among the Spartans with 2.85 kills per frame, is hitting .239, and is averaging 3.48 digs and 0.22 aces per set. She ranks second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten in digs per set.
Bailey established a season high with 15 digs against Notre Dame, then had 12 digs in the most recent match vs. Southern Illinois (Sept. 16). She has had five matches with double-digit digs - tied with Abby Monson for the most on the team.
With her eight kills against Southern Illinois, Bailey moved past the 1,500 mark for her career. With 1,059 in her two seasons at Marquette and 444 in a Spartan uniform, Bailey sits at 1,503 - good for eighth among active Division I players. She also has 1,175 career digs.
Rachel Minarick averages 9.91 assists (10th, B1G), 0.64 aces (first, B1G), and 2.68 digs per set. She is currently sixth all-time at MSU with 3,626 career assists. She needs 116 to move past fifth-place Natalie Emro (3,742, 2008-11), and 207 to catapult into third place all-time - Courtney DeBolt had 3,773 (1992-95).
Minarick is 15th among all Division I players in career assists.
Maggie Midgette has earned two starts at setter this season - turning in 38-assist performances vs. both Corpus Christi (Sept. 1) and Central Michigan (Sept. 16). She is averaging 5.07 assists per set in 12 sets this season overall.
Minarick and Holly Toliver are among the national leaders in service aces - Minarick is third the country and leads the Big Ten, (0.64/s), while Toliver is third in the league and 33rd nationally with 0.48 per frame. Brooke Kranda is 12th in the B1G with 0.35 aces per set.
Senior middle Megan Tompkins is averaging 1.07 blocks per set (good for third on the team), and also chipping in 1.26 kills per frame.
Tompkins established a season best with seven blocks against Notre Dame (Sept. 15). She tied for the team high in that match with Brooke Kranda. She had three more vs. Central Michigan and four vs. SIU for a total of 14 on the weekend (1.55 per set).
Abby Monson had started 40 consecutive matches at libero, and is averaging 4.29 digs per set , good for seventh in the Big Ten in that category. In 2016, she averaged a team-best 3.47 digs per set, 11th in the Big Ten. She was injured in the match against Central Michigan and will miss this weekend's matches.
Jamye Cox averaged 5.22 digs per set on the weekend for MSU, but earned her first matches with the Libero jersey in the final two matches of the Shamrock Invitational. In those two matches, she had 17 and 24 digs in three-set matches, averaging 6.83 digs per frame in the opposite jersey. She also had two aces and two assists in her libero debut vs. CMU.
Cox has played the most sets of any of MSU's freshmen (27 of 28) and is averaging 2.74 digs per frame, good for third on the team behind Monson and Bailey.
Freshman outside hitter Meredith Norris got more playing time over the weekend at Notre Dame, compiling 11 kills, 13 digs, and five blocks over the two matches vs. Central Michigan and Notre Dame. She had a season-best seven digs in the win over Central Michigan, and established a season best with three blocks vs. SIU.
Three Senior Aces are among the five freshmen on MSU's 2017 roster. Alyssa Chronowski (No. 30), Jamye Cox (No. 40), and Meredith Norris (No. 25) all enrolled at MSU in January and already have a semester of college courses under their belts. Julia Hatcher and Bella Legarza round out the Spartan newcomers. In addition, redshirt freshman Lauren Swartz will see her first collegiate action this fall after redshirting a year ago and earning the team's Most Improved Award.
MSU has two 2017 graduates who are pursuing their graduate degrees at other universities and playing beach volleyball during their fifth year of collegiate eligibility: Allyssah Fitterer will play at Hawaii, and Chloe Reinig will play this spring at Loyola-Marymount in Los Angeles.
MSU opens its home Big Ten schedule next weekend, hosting Maryland (7 pm) and Ohio State (8 pm). It will serve as alumni weekend at Jenison Field House.