Big Ten Season Begins for No. 15 Volleyball
Sept. 25, 2013
The Big Ten begins conference play this weekend, and MSU opens on the road at No. 1 Penn State (Friday) and at No. 13 Ohio State (Sunday).
MSU completed its non-conference portion of the schedule with an 11-1 record, and enters Big Ten play on a nine-game winning streak dating back to the opening tournament at Virginia Tech. The Spartans are tied for 14th nationally in winning percentage (.917)
MSU is 23-1 over the last two non-conference seasons.
The Spartans are looking to snap a four-year winless streak in their Big Ten opener, but have a tall task with No. 1 Penn State on the road as its Conference curtain-raiser. MSU is 6-26 all-time in the first game of the Big Ten season.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
MSU is coming off back-to-back championship runs at the Butler and Spartan Invitational Tournaments. The Spartans swept IPFW, Illinois State, and the host Bulldogs to capture the title at Butler, then downed Eastern Michigan, Duquesne, and Cincinnati at home last weekend to win their home tourney.
The Spartans dropped the second set to Duquesne last Saturday morning, snapping a streak of 17 consecutive sets won. MSU had last dropped a set to No. 12 Oregon on Sept. 6.
MSU has played (and won) one five-set match, two matches in four sets, and won eight of nine three-set matches.
Despite a 3-0 week, the Spartans moved down one spot in the AVCA National Top 25 to No. 15. The Spartans are No. 16 in the Volleyball Magazine survey.
The Big Ten has a national-best eight teams in the top-25 again this week. On Sept. 10, the Big Ten made history - it was the first time that nine teams from one conference appeared in the AVCA Top-25 in the same week.
Eight Big Ten teams have one loss or fewer in the non-conference season. Only Ohio State, at 12-0, remains undefeated. Illinois, at 4-6, has the most losses and is the only sub-.500 team in the conference, but has played seven top-20 teams in its 12 matches.
MSU completed its pre-Big Ten slate by extending its streak to 18 consecutive non-conference wins on its home floor. The streak dates back to September of 2010 - MSU's last home loss to a non-Big Ten team came on Sept. 11, 2010 to Eastern Michigan, 3-2.
MSU's 2.73 blocks per set is third in the Big Ten and ranks 20th nationally.
MSU averages 1.8 service aces per set, which ranks 17th nationally.
Spartan opponents are hitting just .114, which is second in the Big Ten behind Penn State (.095).
The Sept. 6 win over Oregon was head coach Cathy George's 150th at Michigan State. George currently has a record of 522-339 during her 26 years of coaching and is in her ninth year at MSU. She entered the season 29th among active coaches (and third in the Big Ten) in career victories.
MSU's home attendance, 10,766 fans over three home matches, currently ranks 11th nationally; its average of 2,153 per game ranks 13th. MSU's attendance of 33,717 fans in 2012 ranked 17th nationally.
Fifteen of Michigan State's volleyball games will be televised or streamed live in the 2013 season. Highlighting MSU's television exposure is a game at Minnesota which will air live on ESPN 2 on Oct. 17.
MSU's freshman class was rated the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation, per PrepVolleyball.com. Outside hitter Chloe Reinig made her Spartan debut last Saturday, missing he first 10 matches due to illness. Reinig was the No. 4 senior recruit in the country, and earned a spot in MSU's starting lineup before the season.
The team boasted a 3.14 cumulative grade point average with a combined seven 4.0 semesters in 2012-13. Amy Dentlinger, Kristen Kelsay, Chelsey Probst, Stefanie Shiramizu, and Jazmine White earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, while Kelsay also earned Distinguished Scholar recognition for a 3.7 GPA or better in the 2012-13 school year.
Wicinski was named the MVP of the Spartan Invitational last weekend. In addition to 52 kills, five blocks, and 24 digs, she had seven service aces on the weekend, including a season-best five against Cincinnati. She also had her third double-double of the year (22k, 10 digs) against Duquesne.
Wicinski was joined on the Spartan Invitational All-Tournament Team by senior co-captain Kristen Kelsay and junior Taylor Galloway. Kelsay contributed 77 assists on the weekend, along with three aces and 17 digs. Galloway had 19 kills, 14 digs, one solo block in three games.
Wicinski is second in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.7) and is third in points (5.28/set). With seven aces on the weekend, she is now second in the Big Ten (0.41 per set).
Wicinski leads the country's active players in several categories. She ranks first among active players in career kills (2,042), kills/set (4.82), total attempts (4,650), and aces (239); she's ninth in attempts per game (10.97), 15th in sets played (424) and tied for 16th in matches played (117).
Senior middle blocker Alexis Mathews is sixth nationally (and third the Big Ten) in hitting percentage (.468) and is 35th in blocks per set (1.31), which is fifth in the Conference.
Mathews owns a .340 career hitting percentage, which ranks 21st among active players in Division I volleyball and second all-time at MSU.
Mathews is primed to move into the Big Ten's 500-blocks club. She would become the 36th athlete to join that group, which includes MSU players Angela Moreley (637), Dana Cooke (581), and Val Sterk (575). With 491 blocks, she moved past Vanessa King (458) in the MSU record book and is in sole possession of fourth place.
Mathews tied freshman Allyssah Fitterer with the team's best single-game blocking total this season. Mathews had one solo and eight block assists against Duquesne (Sept. 21), while Fitterer accomplished the feat against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31.
Junior libero Kori Moster set a career best with five service aces against Duquesne (Sept. 21). She had 46 digs on the weekend against just five errors, and also added 14 assists.
Moster is third in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.45) She has 1,254 in her career, which moved her into fifth place all-time at MSU (Veronica Morales holds the school record with 1,484, which Moster could attain this year as a junior). Moster is the 56th member of the Big Ten's 1,250 digs list. Moster recorded 602 digs in 2012, good for second in MSU's single-season recordbook. Moster's 474 digs as a freshman is sixth in a single season.
Senior Kelsey Kuipers contributed five kills and three blocks in a four-set win over Duquesne last Saturday, and later that day had a season-best eight kills and hit a career-high .778 (8-1-9) vs. Cincinnati.
Freshman Allyssah Fitterer helped MSU to a 3-0 record last weekend with 17 kills, (including a season-best nine against Duquesne), along with two aces, two digs, and five blocks. She also had three digs on the weekend, and a pair of assists.
Reinig made her season debut on Saturday against Duquesne, and had 13 kills, one dig, and a block while hitting .417. On the weekend, she hit .333, had 19 kills and three blocks. Reinig missed the first 10 matches of the season with illness.
Peterson appeared in two matches at the Spartan Invitational, recording 27 assists. She is rehabbing from a leg injury.
Ryian Hubbard has returned to her position as a defensive specialist with the return of Peterson. She still managed 15 assists against Duquesne (Sept. 21) and is averaging 2.83 assists/set this season. Hubbard, who was a setter on four straight state championships teams in high school, had three career assists in her first two seasons at MSU.
Hubbard also contributed two more service aces on the weekend at home. She ranks fourth in the Big ten in aces/set (0.37). She had three service aces combined in her first two seasons.
Kristen Kelsay owns 2,506 career assists, good for fifth place at MSU all-time. This season, she ranks ninth in the Big Ten in assists/set (7.80).
Wicinski is one of 30 candidates for volleyball's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The list will be trimmed to 10 finalists mid-season, and fans will be allowed to cast their votes online.
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