Oct. 3, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 25 Michigan State will complete a stretch of four straight road matches when it travels to take on Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 5 and No. 10 Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 6. The Big Ten Network will air the contest against the Badgers on tape-delay at 11 p.m. ET on Friday night.
WATCH: Wisconsin and Minnesota Preview
A Look at the Spartans
The Spartans are coming off of a 3-0 win over Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-16 and 25-22. The sweep against the Hawkeyes gave head coach Cathy George her 500th career win, becoming the 34th active coach to reach the 500 win milestone.
Junior Lauren Wicinski leads Michigan State on the outside and tops the conference in both points (5.40) and service aces per set (0.63). She is also third in the Big Ten in kills with 4.43 per set. Alexis Mathews is the anchor in the middle for the Spartans and she averages 1.31 blocks per set and is third in the conference with a .459 hitting percentage. Sophomore captain Kori Moster reels in 4.76 digs per set, good for third in the Big Ten, as the Spartans libero, and also averages 0.41 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 500-330. MSU made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
The Badgers are 13-4 on the season and 1-3 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin is coming off a 3-1 loss to No. 22 Ohio State and was swept by No. 1 Penn State last weekend. Five Wisconsin players average more than two kills per set and Ellen Chapman leads Wisconsin with 2.95. Setter Courtney Thomas paces the Badgers offense with 10.53 assists per set, good for seventh in the conference.
Series History: MSU trails the all-time record with Wisconsin, 24-44.
Last Meeting: The Spartans took down the Badgers 3-1 on Nov. 12, 2011.
Coach: Pete Waite is the winningest coach in Wisconsin volleyball history and in 13 years at the UW, the Badgers are an impressive 288-131 (.687) with nine 20-plus win seasons.
No. 10 Minnesota is 12-3 this season and took down No. 22 Ohio State, 3-0, before being swept by No. 1 Penn State this weekend. The Golden Gophers are led on the outside by senior Katherine Harms and her conference-leading 4.45 kills per set. Junior Tori Dixon leads the Big Ten with a .479 hitting percentage and also averages 0.98 blocks per set.
Series History: MSU trails the all-time record with Minnesota, 16-47.
Last Meeting: The Spartans fell to the Golden Gophers 3-0 on Nov. 9, 2011.
Coach: Hugh McCutcheon is in his first season at the helm of Golden Gopher volleyball after earning two medals with the United State men's and women's Olympic teams.
AVCA Top 25 Rankings
Michigan State is ranked No. 25 this week in the AVCA coaches poll and dropped one spot after going 1-1 over the weekend, losing to No. 6 Nebraska and sweeping Iowa. 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 159-59 record when ranked in the top 25.
Coaching Milestone for George
Head coach Cathy George became the 34th active coach to reach 500 career wins after MSU swept Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 29. George currently has a record of 500-330 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.
Stacking Up Across the Country
Junior Lauren Wicinski is second in the nation in aces per set with 0.63, is fifth in points per set with 5.40 and is 21st in kills per set with 4.43. Junior Alexis Mathews is also fifth in the country in hitting percentage with a mark of .459. As a team, MSU is fifth in aces per set (1.72), sixth in hitting percentage (.309) and fourth in kills per set (14.84).
Leading the Big Ten
Michigan State leads the conference in service aces with 1.72 per set and in kills per set with 14.87. The Spartans are third in hitting percentage (.309), second in opponent hitting percentage (.152) and third in assists with 13.52 per set.
Individually, Lauren Wicinski leads the Big Ten in service aces and points and is second in kills. Wicinski is averaging 4.43 kills per set, 0.63 service aces per set and 5.40 points per set.
Junior Alexis Mathews is fourth in the conference in blocks per set with 1.31 and is third in hitting percentage with a mark of .459. Kori Moster is also third in digs per set (4.76) and fourth in service aces per set (0.41).
Doubling Up on the Hitting Percentage
The Spartans are averaging a .309 hitting percentage on the season and is allowing opponents to hit just .152 on the season. MSU has been out hit in just two matches the season, falling to No. 6 Nebraska and then-No. 17 Purdue.
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, took down Iowa, 3-0. The Spartans are on the road again this weekend, traveling to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Currently Michigan State is 2-2 in conference play.
First Set Success
Michigan State is 11-1 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 it was tied at 14 in the fifth set before the Boilermakers won, 17-15.
Michigan State is also 13-1 in matches decided by three games of less and its only loss of the season in three sets was at Nebraska on Wednesday.
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.
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.
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.
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 featured on the Big Ten Network on Sept. 26 at Nebraska and Oct. 5 at Wisconsin.
Freshman Making an Impact
Setter Halle Peterson has been a huge addition to the Spartans offense and is averaging 4.86 assists per set for MSU. She recorded her first career double-double against IPFW with 27 assists and 12 digs and has notched double-digit assists in 14 of the 16 matches this season.