Sept. 25, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 24 Michigan State will head to No. 6 Nebraska on Wednesday, Sept. 26, and then to Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 29, for its first conference road tests of the season. The match between the Spartans and the Huskers will be featured live on the Big Ten Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
WATCH: Nebraska Preview
A Look at the Spartans
No. 24 Michigan State went 1-1 during the first weekend of Big Ten play. The Spartans fell to then-No.17 Purdue in five sets before sweeping Indiana, 3-0. The Spartans are currently 13-1 on the season and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
Michigan State went up 2-1 over Purdue before dropping the next two sets and falling 17-15 in set five. The Spartans rebounded to sweep the Hoosiers and were lead by Kristen Kelsay with 20 assists and 12 digs in the match.
Junior Lauren Wicinski leads Michigan State on the outside and tops the conference in both points (5.44) and service aces per set (0.65). She also is second in the Big Ten in kills with 4.42 per set. Alexis Mathews is the anchor in the middle for the Spartans and she averages 1.31 blocks per set and is second in the conference with a .484 hitting percentage. Sophomore captain Kori Moster reels in 4.83 digs per set, good for third in the Big Ten, as the Spartans libero, and also averages 0.44 service aces per set.
Michigan State head coach Cathy George is in her eighth season at the helm of the Spartans and has a career record of 499-329. MSU made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago and it was the fourth trip for George while at Michigan State.
No. 6 Nebraska enters Wednesday's match with a 9-2 record and is 1-1 in Big Ten play. The Huskers fell to Penn State, 3-1, but defeated Ohio State, 3-1 last weekend. Nebraska is led by senior setter Lauren Cook who is fourth in the Big Ten in assists with 11.00 per set. Senior Hannah Werth averages 3.08 kills per set to go along with 3.36 digs per set.
Series History: MSU trails the series, 0-10-2.
Last Meeting: The Huskers defeated MSU, 3-0 on Nov. 5, 2011
Coach: John Cook is in his 12th season at the helm of the Husker volleyball program. He owns a career record of 531-108 and has won to NCAA titles at Nebraska.
Iowa currently has an 8-7 record on the season and is 0-2 in conference play. Last weekend the Hawkeyes fell to both Ohio State and Penn State, 3-1. Alex Lovell leads Iowa with 3.25 kills per set and Bethany Yeager is tied for first in the Big Ten with 4.92 digs per set. Iowa will face Michigan on Friday before taking on the Spartans on Saturday.
Series History: MSU leads the series, 38-24.
Last Meeting: The Spartans won 3-0 at Iowa on Nov. 4, 2011.
Coach: Sharon Dingman is in her fifth season as head coach of the Hawkeyes. She has a career record of 381-293 in 21 seasons as a head coach.
Big Ten Network
The match against Nebraska will air live on the Big Ten Network on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Kevin Kuger and Megan Bower will be on the call and it is the first of two MSU matches that will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.
Breaking into the Rankings
Michigan State is ranked No. 24 this week in the AVCA coaches poll and moved up one spot after going 1-1 over the weekend. The Spartans broke into the rankings on Sept. 17 and it was the first time being ranked since Oct. 11, 2009, at No. 18. MSU boasts a 158-58 record when ranked in the top 25.
Stacking Up Across the Country
Junior Lauren Wicinski is second in the nation in aces per set with 0.65, is fourth in points per set with 5.44 and is 20th in kills per set with 4.42. Junior Alexis Mathews is also second in the country in hitting percentage with a mark of .484. As a team, MSU is seventh in aces per set (1.77), fourth in hitting percentage (.321) and third in kills per set (14.98).
Leading the Big Ten
Michigan State leads the conference in kills with 14.98 per set and in service aces with 1.77 per set. MSU is also second in hitting percentage (.321) and second in opponent hitting percentage (.139). The Spartans are also second in assists with 13.54 per set.
Individually, Lauren Wicinski leads the Big Ten in service aces and points and is second in kills. Wicinski is averaging 4.42 kills per set, 0.65 service aces per set and 5.44 points per set.
Junior Alexis Mathews is fourth in the conference in blocks per set with 1.31 and is second in hitting percentage with a mark of .484. Kori Moster is also third in digs per set (4.83) and fourth in service aces per set (0.44).
Undefeated in Three and Four Sets
The Spartans are 12-0 in matches decided in three or four sets this season. MSU's only loss came to then-No. 17 Purdue, 3-2 and the Spartans defeated IPFW, 3-2. Throughout the season MSU has dropped only seven sets on the season and only four matches have gone longer than three sets.
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 at the Holiday Inn Charleston/Mt.Pleasant Invitational and was named to the named to the 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.
Approaching a Milestone
Head coach Cathy George is closing in on her 500th career win. George currently has a record of 499- 329 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 got out to a 12-0 start to open the season, its third best start in program history before losing to then-No. 17 Purdue, 3-2. 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 tied 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 nine matches that will air on BTN.com. Michigan State will be live 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 11 of 13 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.