Showdown With Top 10 Teams Highlight Week Three B1G Volleyball Action
Spartans play at No. 4 Nebraska, host No. 7 Wisconsin
|Big Ten Week Three: MSU at No. 4 Nebraska, vs. No. 7 Wisconsin|
|Dates/Times|| Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Nebraska; 8 pm ET
Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Wisconsin, 4 pm
|Location||Lincoln, Neb.; Devaney Center | East Lansing, Mich.; Jenison Field House|
|Live Statistics||at Nebraska | vs. Wisconsin|
|Tickets|| Purchase Tickets (Spartan Ticket Office)
Four Seats, Four Treats Package (Sat. Only)
|Live Video Streams||at Nebraska | vs. Wisconsin|
|Radio|| SpartanSportsNetwork.com |
John Kreger, pxp
|Download Game Notes||Michigan State | Nebraska | Wisconsin|
|Social Media||@MichStVB | Facebook|
Michigan State enters the third week of Big Ten play with its first midweek action. The Spartans take on No. 4 Nebraska in Lincoln on Wednesday evening. The Spartans close the week with a rematch against No. 7 Wisconsin on Saturday at Jenison Field House (4 pm).
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 on MSUSpartans.com.
Both matches this week will have a webstream available on BTN2Go (subscription required).
Wednesday's game in Lincoln is a showdown of the two Big Ten unbeatens - the Spartans and Huskers both enter the week at 4-0 in Conference action. Both squads swept Minnesota and went five sets with Wisconsin. Nebraska earned opening-weekend sweeps of Penn State and Rutgers.
Michigan State is coming off a pair of home sweeps of Maryland and (RV) Ohio State.
The Spartans began Big Ten play with a 4-0 record for the first time since 2013. That season, the Spartans went undefeated through their first six Big Ten matches.
Michigan State moved up two spots to No. 14 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll. This is MSU's highest spot occupied in the national poll this season.
MSU took town top-five opponents in back-to-back games for the first time in program history when the Spartans earned road wins at Wisconsin and Minnesota in the opening week of Big Ten play. MSU has its third and fourth top-10 opponents this weekend.
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).
Seven Big Ten programs earned spots in the latest AVCA coaches poll, with four teams ranked among the top 10: No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 6 Minnesota, and No. 7 Wisconsin. The Spartans sit at No. 14, followed by No. 19 Purdue and No. 22 Michigan. Illinois and Ohio State are receiving votes in the poll.
MSU is 2-17-2 all-time against Nebraska, which includes an 0-6 mark all-time in Lincoln. The teams met just once in 2016, a 3-2 battle that went to the then-top-ranked Huskers (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 14-25, 14-16). MSU has waged all-out battles with Nebraska in recent seasons - while the last six matches between the teams have gone to the Huskers, all of them have been at least four sets and the last two five-set affairs.
Mikeala Foecke leads the offensive attack for Nebraska with 3.25 kills per set, while senior Annika Albrecht is right behind with 3.15. Middle Brianna Holman is averaging 1.09 blocks and 2.53 kills per frame.
The Badgers hold a 49-27 edge in the all-time series with Michigan State, but had a streak of five straight wins in the series snapped when MSU took a five-set victory in Madison on the opening night of Big Ten play (14-25, 25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13). This will be the first time since 2013 that the teams will meet twice in the Big Ten schedule. This is also Wisconsin's first trip to East Lansing since 2014.
In the first meeting of the teams on Sept. 22, the Badgers suffered their first loss of the season and suffered their first loss to the Spartans in six tries. Brooke Kranda paced MSU with 20 kills and four blocks, while the Spartans had two players with double-doubles: Autumn Bailey had a season-high 25 digs and 16 kills, while Holly Toliver had 12 kills and 12 digs along with three blocks and an ace. Rachel Minarick dished out 53 assists and six blocks - two short of her career best in assists and one short on blocks. Meanwhile, Alyssa Garvelink had nine blocks, tying her season best she set in the opener vs. Furman. For the Badgers, freshman Dana Rettke had 19 kills, hit .412, and had five blocks, a team high for UW. Kelli Bates had a double-double, with 14 kills and 12 digs.
Rettke and Bates lead the Badger attack, averaging 3.25 kills each. Rettke is third in the Big Ten with a .442 hitting percentage, and her 1.55 blocks ranks third. Freshman setter Sydney Hilley ranks second in the Conference with 11.68 assists per frame.
MSU set several single-match highs this season against the Badgers, the only five-set match for the Spartans this season. MSU had 63 kills, 192 attempts, 80 digs, and 13 blocks in the first meeting of the teams.
MSU is holding opponents to a .133 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally. In MSU's most recent match, Ohio State hit .214 - the season high for the opponents MSU has faced. The Spartans have held five of 13 opponents to under .100 this season, and just three have hit .200 or better.
The Spartans lead the Big Ten and rank seventh nationally in service aces (1.79 per set), while ranking fifth in the conference and 23rd nationally in blocks (2.71/s). MSU is also in the top 40 nationally in kills (14.17, 21st), assists (13.14, 28th), and hitting percentage (.258, 36th).
MSU has 75 service aces on the season and ranks first in the Big ten with 1.79 per frame. The Spartans have allowed just 34 aces against, and Wisconsin had a season-high six against the Spartans (Sept. 22). MSU is fourth in the Conference in aces against, led by Penn State (29).
MSU is second in the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage (.133), and has allowed just 10.45 kills per frame, the lowest number among Big Ten squads.
MSU's 13 blocks at Wisconsin (9/22) tied its season best, set vs. Notre Dame (9/15) The Spartans had a season-low four blocks in its most recent victory over Ohio State, and now rank fifth in the B1G with 2.71 blocks per set. MSU has and have had six double-digit blocking efforts in 13 matches.
With 16.21 digs per set, the Spartans are second in the B1G rankings. MSU had a season-high 80 digs vs. the Badgers in the first meeting of the teams.
MSU continues to have a well-distributed offense. The Spartans have three players averaging between 3.07 and 3.28 kills per frame. MSU also has three players between 0.95 and 1.64 blocks per set.
In the most recent match vs. Ohio State (Sept. 30), the Spartans hit .396 as a team. Every player credited with an attempt finished with a hitting percentage of .308 or better. Four Spartans boasted .400 percentages or better in the match.
MSU allowed the Buckeyes just 48 points, the second-fewest points allowed in a match this season. MSU allowed just 44 vs. Furman in the season opener, and also allowed 48 to San Diego State.
The Spartans own the longest active winning streak in the Big Ten (six games). Ten of MSU's 11 wins have been in three sets, including three straight and five of the last six. The Wisconsin match was a five-set victory.
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 seven 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 243-165 in her 13th season at MSU.
George is the third Big Ten head coach to amass 600 wins, along with Penn State's Russ Rose (1,226) and Wisconsin's John Cook (671). She ranks 22nd among active coaches in coaching victories.
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 averaged 3,732 fans for each of its two Big Ten matches at Jenison Field House last weekend, and 2,230 over five home matches. MSU currently ranks 14th in overall attendance and 11th in average attendance.
In the last six matches, the Spartans have gone with a senior-dominated starting lineup: OH's Autumn Bailey, Brooke Kranda, and Holly Toliver, MB's Alyssa Garvelink and Megan Tompkins, setter Rachel Minarick, and freshman libero Jamye Cox.
A key to the Spartans' success this season is a widely-distributed offense (and defense). MSU boasts four players averaging between 2.45 and 3.28 kills per set, three who average 0.95 blocks per set or more, and five starters boast dig averages of 2.8 or more per set.
Behind a pair of .470 hitting percentages vs. Maryland and Ohio State, Toliver averaged 3.5 kills per set to share the team lead and help the Spartans stay unbeaten in Big Ten Play. She added two aces and eight digs to a match-best 12 kills against Maryland, and then had nine kills and two assists along with four digs in MSU's victory over (RV) Ohio State.
Toliver ranks third on the team kills per set (3.07) and second in hitting percentage (.258) and is contributing 2.0 digs and 0.46 aces, and 0.51 blocks per frame. She is third in the B1G and 28th nationally in aces per set.
Brooke Kranda averages 3.28 kills per set to lead the MSU offense, (11th in the Big Ten) and is averaging 0.95 blocks and 0.33 aces per set (12th, B1G). Last weekend, she
Kranda had 20 kills in the Wisconsin win (Sept. 22), two off her career best and an MSU match high for any player this season.
Rachel Minarick set the Spartans to a second consecutive 2-0 weekend with a pair of .300+ team hitting performances. She had 30 assists, three aces, and eight digs in Friday's victory over Maryland, then posted 38 assists, two aces, seven digs, and a pair of kills while helping MSU to a .396 hitting performance against (RV) Ohio State.
Minarick pushed her career assist total to 3,790, moving her into third place all-time in the MSU annals in that category.
Minarick averages 10.61 assists (10th, B1G), 0.56 aces (second, B1G/eighth nationally), and 2.47 digs per set.
Minarick is 14th among all current Division I players in career assists.
Autumn Bailey currently is second among the Spartans with 3.10 kills per frame, is hitting .251, and is averaging 3.68 digs and 0.24 aces per set. She ranks second on the team and ninth in the Big Ten in digs per set - the only six-rotation player in the league to rank in the top 15 in digs. Bailey led all players on against Maryland with 10 digs and added seven kills without an error and a pair of blocks., She was MSU's leader in digs again on Saturday when she narrowly missed a double-double with nine digs and 13 kills against (RV) Ohio State. She added a solo block and a pair of aces against the Buckeyes as well. On the weekend, she had zero reception errors and just two hitting errors in 44 swings, hitting .409 and averaging 3.17 digs per set.
Bailey ranks eighth among active players in kills. With 1,059 in her two seasons at Marquette and 494 in a Spartan uniform, Bailey sits at 1,553 - good for eighth among active Division I players. She also has 1,213 career digs, which is 59th.
Alyssa Garvelink will graduate as one of MSU's top blockers in school history. She currently ranks fifth all-time at MSU in both total blocks (475) and block assists (427). Her 1.23 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 (1.64), which is her career-best average. Her hitting percentage of .344 ranks 16th in the Conference, and she's contributing 2.45 kills/set.
Garvelink is fifth among active NCAA Division I players in total career blocks (475), and is 11th in blocks per set (1.23).
Senior middle Megan Tompkins is averaging 0.98 blocks per set (good for second on the team), and also chipping in 1.29 kills per frame.
Tompkins led all players with four blocks in the Maryland match, and also chipped in seven kills and hit a season-best .667. She hit .571 on the weekend.
Abby Monson had started 40 consecutive matches at libero, and is averaging 4.28 digs per set , good for sixth in the Big Ten in that category. She has missed five of the last six matches with injury, but came in as a serving sub vs. Minnesota (her hometown) and delivered an ace in her first attempt.
Jamye Cox has been the Spartan libero in each of the last six matches. Last weekend, she averaged 3.83 digs per set and had zero reception errors.
Cox has played the most sets of any of MSU's freshmen (41 of 42) and is averaging 2.80 digs per frame, good for third on the team behind Monson and Bailey. She is fourth in the Big Ten among freshmen in digs.
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 has a weekend road series on tap next, heading to State College for a showdown with No. 3 Penn State on Friday and at Rutgers on Saturday.