Sept. 30, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The Michigan State volleyball team (9-4, 1-1) hits the road for the first time in the early conference season when it travels to No. 4 Penn State (11-2, 1-1) on Friday, Oct. 1 followed by a Saturday, Oct. 2 contest against Ohio State (13-2, 1-1). Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. ET. MSU's match against PSU on Friday will be streamed live at BigTenNetwork.com.
Scouting Penn State
Penn State enters the match ranked fourth in the latest AVCA poll with a record of 12-2 on the year including a 1-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions offensively are led by Blair Brown with 3.60 kills per set, overall, and 3.75 in the conference. Kristen Carpenter has a team-high 10.00 assists per set, tallying a 11.50 mark in the Big Ten. Alyssa D'Errico has tallied 4.38 digs per set on the year, 5.00 in conference matches. Arielle Wilson leads the team at the net with 1.31 blocks per set, blocking 1.38 in conference matches.
Series History: MSU trails in the series, 33-6.
Last Meeting: The Spartans fell to Penn State by a score of 3-0 in University Park, Pa. on Nov. 27, 2009.
Coach: The Nittany Lions are coached by Russ Rose who is in his 32nd season and posts an all-time record of 1,012-161.
Scouting Ohio State
Ohio State currently has a record of 13-2 overall and 1-1 after the first weekend of Big Ten action. Katie Dull currently leads the team with 3.46 kills per set overall, and 2.88 within the conference. Betsy Hone has a team-high 9.72 assists per set, going 8.88 in the Big Ten. Defensively, Sarah Mignin is the top digger with 3.12 per set overall and 3.00 in conference matches, while Allie Schwarzwalder is the top blocker with 1.48 per set and 1.14 in the Big Ten.
Series History: MSU trails in the series, 40-27.
Recapping Last Week
Last Meeting: The Buckeyes downed MSU in straight sets, 3-0, on Nov. 28, 2009 in Columbus.
Coach: Head coach Geoff Carlson is in his third season with the Buckeyes, boasting a 50-32 record at the school and 243-96 all-time.
The Spartans opened Big Ten conference action on Friday, Sept. 24 with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-21) loss to No. 14 Minnesota. The match was the first of two matches to be held inside the Breslin Center that weekend for the Spartans. Red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje
led all players on the night with 13 kills, while hitting .571.
MSU returned to the Breslin Center the following night and earned its first conference win of the season when it topped Iowa, 3-1. Junior Kyndra Abron was the staple for the Spartans both offensively and at the net with 15 kills and five blocks.
The Green and White is now 5-2 all-time in matches held inside the Breslin Center. MSU returns to the venue on Nov. 24th for its 7 p.m. match against Michigan.
New Kids on the Block
Through 13 matches in the 2010 campaign, the Spartans currently rank 19th nationally in blocks with a 2.63 blocks-per-set average. Leading the way is red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje who ranks 104th individually with a 1.11 average. Red-shirt freshman Alexis Mathews is second on the team, and 106th nationally, with a 1.09 mark.
Comparatively, in 2009 the team averaged 2.58 blocks per set through the first 13 matches, good enough for 28th in the nation. Seniors Vanessa King was ranked 90th (1.12), while Mischelle Nelson was 155th (0.98) at the time.
On the Road Again
This weekend marks the first Big Ten road trip of the season for the Spartans. Throughout the month of October, MSU will play a total of seven games of the road, compared to its five home contests. The Green and White conclude the month with its final four matches on the road. MSU's home contest on Oct. 16 against Northwestern and its home match against Ohio State on Nov. 5 is the longest span between home matches this season for the Spartans.
450 Career Wins
On Aug. 27th, head coach Cathy George became just the 36th active coach to achieve the 450 career win milestone. MSU downed Bowling Green by a score of 3-0 in the opening game of the MSU Showcase. George currently ranks 36th among active coaches in career victories with 458.
Approaching the Century Mark
With already 93 wins as a Spartan, head coach Cathy George is seven wins shy of becoming just the third coach in program history to reach the century mark. George currently has a record of 93-80 at MSU.
A Challenging Schedule
MSU is one of two teams in the nation this season to be playing three of the four NCAA National Finalists from 2009. The Spartans battle Hawaii, Penn State and Minnesota, all of which appeared as one of the four remaining teams in the NCAA Championship. The Green and White are joined by Illinois as the other team to face such a challenging schedule. Illinois will face Penn State, Minnesota and Texas on its 2010 schedule.
After five weekends of action in the 2010 season, senior Allyson Karaba currently ranks sixth in the conference in digs with a 4.10 digs per set average. Karaba is joined by red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje on the conference rankings list with a fifth-place hitting percentage of .407.
The team is currently third in assists and blocks with 13.19 assists per set and fifth in blocks per set (2.63) and kills per set (13.96). The Spartans are eighth in hitting percentage (.262), ninth in service aces (1.11) and 10th in digs per set (13.00). and (1.15) and digs (13.10).
Reaching New Heights
The Spartans recently went through progress testing for several individuals on the team. Each student-athlete was tested on flexibility, vertical leap and other essential fundamentals vital to a volleyball player. The middle blockers averaged a vertical leap of 10-5.5. Leading the way is red-shirt freshman Alexis Mathews with a 10-7 vertical, followed by red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje at 10-5.5 and freshman Kelsey Kuipers at 10-4.
Prior to the 2010 season, several Spartans were recognized for their work both on and off the court. Junior Kyndra Abron was tabbed as one of 16-members of the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Abron found herself on the conference coaches' radars after earning First-Team All-Big Ten and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention honors her sophomore campaign.
Red-shirt junior Jenilee Rathje was recognized by the conference in July for her dedication to her class work. Rathje was one of 484 student-athletes to receive Big Ten Scholar Athlete distinction. In order to be recognized, each student-athlete must achieve at least a 3.7 or higher for the corresponding academic year.
As a team, the Spartans were tabbed as the sixth-best team in the conference as announced by the coaches poll earlier this summer. Nationally, MSU was ranked tied for 44th in the AVCA Pre-season Poll, voted on by the coaches association.
The 2010 season marks the 15th anniversary of Michigan State's historic 1995 NCAA National Semi-Final run. In only the program's second NCAA tournament appearance, the Spartans advanced to the NCAA Semi-Finals after stunning Hawaii on its home court in the Regional Final, 3-2. After receiving a first-round bye, the Green and White took care of business against Brigham Young in the sound round and San Diego State in the Regional Semifinal with 3-0 wins over each opponent. After dispatching Hawaii in five sets, the Spartans' magical journey came to an end with a 3-2 loss against Nebraska. MSU got out against the Huskers in the first set, winning it 15-10. However, Nebraska took sets two (15-8) and three (15-8), before MSU squared the match in set four with a 15-9 win. The Huskers closed out the match with a 15-8 win over the Spartans en route to the 1995 NCAA Volleyball Championship.
All season long, all MSU Friday home matches allow fans the opportunity to purchase the "Friday 4 Pack". The "Friday 4 Pack" gives fans four tickets, four drinks and four hot dogs, nachos or pretzels. The "Friday 4 Pack" applies to advance orders only.
Saturday, Oct. 9 will be the first Hometown Day for the MSU volleyball team. Following the match, the junior class - Kyndra Abron, Natalie Emro, Jenilee Rathje, Carli Weiler and Becca Zlabis - will be available for autographs for fans. The first 500 fans will receive a poster featuring the complete junior class.
Events can be subscribed to either monthly or annually and for significantly less expensive than the cost of most other collegiate streaming services. The streaming initiative will offer two major benefits. First, it will allow fans to follow teams and sports that for the most part received significantly less coverage than other sports. And second, students on campus will have the opportunity to help produce the streamed events and learn more about television sports production, a highly competitive field. Furthermore, the 200 streamed events are in addition to the more than 350 events already airing on the network, creating a total of approximately 550 campus events the Big Ten Network is bringing to fans.
MSU is currently slated to have 10 matches streamed on BigTenNetwork.com
Spartans on Social Media
Fans are now able to get the latest information on the MSU Athletic Department's official Facebook page: facebook.com/MSUathletics. Also, fans are encouraged to follow the official Twitter account for the Spartans @MSU_Athletics and @MichStVB, the official Twitter handle for the Michigan State volleyball staff.