Sept. 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 24 Michigan State will head to Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 29, after falling to No. 6 Nebraska on Wednesday night, 3-0. The Spartans (13-2, 1-2 Big Ten) will look to rebound against the Hawkeyes (8-7, 0-2 Big Ten) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
WATCH: Iowa Preview
The Last Meeting
November 4, 2011
Iowa City, Iowa
Volleyball Sweeps Through Hawkeyes, 3-0
The Michigan State volleyball team (18-7, 7-6 Big Ten) swept past Iowa (11-15, 1-12 Big Ten), 3-0, on Friday, Nov. 4 in Iowa City, Iowa, to open the first of four straight road contests. For MSU, seniors Jenilee Rathje and Kyndra Abron, and sophomore Alexis Mathews each tallied double-digit kill numbers against the Hawkeyes.
A Look at the Spartans
No. 24 Michigan State dropped a 3-0 match to No. 6 Nebraska in Lincoln on Wednesday night. The Spartans hit just .175 percent in the match, while Nebraska notched a .391 hitting percentage. The mark of .175 percent was the lowest hitting percentage for the Spartans this season.
Junior Lauren Wicinski leads Michigan State on the outside and tops the conference in both points (5.39) and service aces per set (0.63). She also is second in the Big Ten in kills with 4.41 per set. Alexis Mathews is the anchor in the middle for the Spartans and she averages 1.27 blocks per set and is second in the conference with a .471 hitting percentage. Sophomore captain Kori Moster reels in 4.65 digs per set, good for third in the Big Ten, as the Spartans libero, and also averages 0.43 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 499-330. MSU made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
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.
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 158-59 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 0.63, is fourth in points per set with 5.39 and is 20th in kills per set with 4.41. Junior Alexis Mathews is also second in the country in hitting percentage with a mark of .471. As a team, MSU is seventh in aces per set (1.75), fourth in hitting percentage (.312) and third in kills per set (14.84).
Leading the Big Ten
Michigan State leads the conference in service aces with 1.75 per set and is also second in kills per set (14.84), hitting percentage (.321), opponent hitting percentage (.139) and 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 fifth in the conference in blocks per set with 1.27 and is second in hitting percentage with a mark of .471. Kori Moster is also third in digs per set (4.65) and fifth in service aces per set (0.45).
Doubling Up on the Hitting Percentage
The Spartans are averaging a .312 hitting percentage on the season and is allowing opponents to hit just .153 on the season. MSU has been out hit in just two matches the season, falling to No. 6 Nebraska and then-No. 17 Purdue.
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.
Road Grind for MSU
The Spartans are in the midst of a four-game road stretch throughout the gauntlet of the Big Ten season. MSU is coming off a 3-0 loss at No. 6 Nebraska, its first time being swept this season, and squares off at Iowa before going on the road next weekend to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Currently Michigan State is 1-2 in conference play after losing to then-No. 17 Purdue before defeating Indiana.
First Set Success
Michigan State is 10-1 this season after winning the first set of the match. The Spartans only loss after going up 1-0 was to Purdue in a five-set heartbreaker. The Spartans led Purdue 2-1 in the match and is was tied at 14 in the fifth set before the Boilermakers won, 17-15.
Michigan State is also 12-1 in matches decided by three games of less and its only loss of the season in three sets was at Nebraska on Wednesday.
Leadership from the Captains
Junior setter Kristen Kelsay and sophomore libero Kori Moster both serve as co-captains for the 2012 Spartans. Their leadership has been vital after the departure of five seniors due to graduation and head coach Cathy George has said that this duo has been her best in years in terms of motivating the team and striving to meet goals.
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.
All-American on the Outside
Lauren Wicinski, a junior outside hitter, transferred from Northern Illinois before this season and was a two-time All-American for the Huskies. She was the first two-time All-American in MAC history and was also two-time MAC Player of the Year. Wicinski led the nation in points (6.18) and kills (5.34) per set, and was third with .57 aces per set last season.