Spartans Welcome Illinois, Northwestern for B1G Weekend
Oct. 3, 2013
Michigan State gets its first home games in the Big Ten schedule this weekend, and welcomes Illinois and Northwestern to East Lansing.
MSU takes on Illinois on Friday. The Illini (5-7, 1-1 B1G fell out of the AVCA poll this week after a split against Iowa (W, 3-0) and Nebraska (L, 0-3) last weekend. Illinois is the lone sub-.500 team in the Big Ten, but played seven ranked teams in its non-conference schedule. The two teams have split the season series in each of the last two years.
Northwestern enters Friday's contest at Michigan with a 9-5 overall mark and split last weekend's series with Nebraska (L, 1-3) before rebounding with a sweep of Iowa at home. MSU has won five of the last six meetings between the teams, with Northwestern's lone victory in that stretch coming last season at Jenison Field House, 3-1.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
Michigan State made the largest jump of any team in the AVCA Top 25 this week, ascending six spots to No. 9. The Spartans are one of five teams to receive first-place votes (2) in this week's poll. MSU has achieved its highest national ranking since being placed sixth in the 1997 pre-season poll.
The Big Ten has a national-best eight teams in the top-25 again this week, including four in the top 10. 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.
The Spartans have won 11 consecutive matches dating back to the opening tournament at Virginia Tech. MSU had a 12-match streak last season, all in the pre-Big Ten portion of the schedule.
The Spartans are ninth nationally in winning percentage (.929)
MSU turned some heads in the opening weekend of Big Ten play, winning at Penn State (3-2) and Ohio State (3-0). Since 2006, only one other team has swept that road trip: in 2011, Illinois accomplished the feat, the same year in which the Illini advanced to the NCAA title match.
MSU snapped an 18-match losing streak to the Nittany Lions with a 3-2 win in State College on Friday, the program's first victory over a top-ranked opponent and first win on the road in this series since 2001. It was just the second conference loss at home for PSU since the start of the 2006 season. PSU has won more National Championships (3) than it had suffered home conference losses (1) in that span.
On Sunday, the Spartans swept the road trip by posting a 3-0 victory over Ohio State, dealing the Buckeyes their first loss of the season. MSU had not won at OSU since 2008.
MSU starts 2-0 in the Big Ten for just the fourth time in school history, and first time since 2008. It's just the second time that MSU opened 2-0 with its first conference matches played on the road - MSU also accomplished that feat in 1996.
MSU completed its non-conference portion of the schedule with an 11-1 record. MSU is 23-1 over the last two non-conference seasons.
The Spartans snapped a four-year winless streak in their Big Ten opener at No. 1 Penn State. MSU is now 7-26 all-time in the first game of the Big Ten season.
MSU has a perfect 4-0 record in matches that go four or five sets (2-0 in both four- and five-set 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 2.58 blocks per set is third in the Big Ten and ranks 39th nationally.
MSU averages 1.77 service aces per set, which ranks 16th nationally.
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .270, which is third in Conference and 24th nationally.
The Sept. 6 win over Oregon was head coach Cathy George's 150th at Michigan State. George currently has a record of 524-339 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 15th nationally; its average of 2,153 per game ranks 15th as well. The Spartans have played just five home matches this season.
Wicinski was also named the Sports Imports/ American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Volleyball Player of the Week, as announced by the AVCA office on Tuesday. She is the first MSU player in a decade to earn AVCA National Player of the Week honors. The most recent Spartan to capture the accolade was Nikki Colson on Sept. 22, 2003; Dana Cooke (Oct. 23, 1995) was MSU's first, and teammate Val Sterk received the kudos a month later (Nov. 20, 1995) during MSU's Final Four season. Recent MSU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Jenna Wrobel is MSU's only two-time honoree, earning it as a sophomore (Oct. 14, 1996) and a senior (Oct. 26, 1998). Angela Moreley also won a weekly AVCA honor on Nov. 19, 2001.
Wicinski recently surpassed the 2,000 career kills mark, and has a total of 2,075 headed into MSU's Big Ten home opener on Friday against Illinois. She needs 180 more to move into the NCAA's top-25 all-time. At Penn State, she surpassed 1,000 career digs.
Wicinski is second in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.38) and is third in points (5.19/set). With four aces on the weekend, she is now second in the Big Ten (0.43 per set).
Wicinski leads the country's active players in several categories. She ranks first among active players in career kills (2,075), kills/set (4.80), total attempts (4,737), and aces (243); she's ninth in attempts per game (10.97), 13th in sets played (432) and tied for 16th in matches played (119).
Wicinski is MSU's career recordholder in service aces (243), which is fourth all-time in the Big Ten. She had four aces in the PSU-OSU weekend, and has 20 on the season. She ranks fourth all-time at MSU and is just outside the all-time top 10 in the Big Ten in attack attempts - she has 4,737, and needs 181 to break into the top 10.
Senior middle blocker Alexis Mathews is 24th nationally (and third the Big Ten) in hitting percentage (.452) and is 42nd in blocks per set (1.30), which is fourth 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 moved into the Big Ten's 500-blocks club on Sept. 29th against Ohio State. She is the 36th athlete to join that group, which includes MSU players Angela Moreley (637), Dana Cooke (581), and Val Sterk (575). With 501 blocks, ranks fourth all-time at MSU.
Allyssah Fitterer and Mathews are tied for 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 is third in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.35). She has 1,285 in her career, which is fifth place all-time at MSU. She needs 200 more to move past Veronica Morales, who holds the school record with 1,484. With her per-set average, Moster could become MSU's all-time recordholder before the end of the Big Ten season.
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.
Chloe Reinig had a dozen kills in each of MSU's wins last weekend. She had 12 kills and four blocks against Penn State in State College on Friday. She had another 12 kills and hit .556 on Saturday in MSU's upset of previously-undefeated Ohio State. Reinig missed the first 10 matches of the season with illness.
Freshman Allyssah Fitterer helped MSU to a sweep last weekend, which included an eight-kill, three- block performance at Penn State. At Ohio State, the freshman dished up three service aces, a career best.
Sophomore Halle Peterson just missed her career-best at Penn State, recording 26 assists (her freshman-year record is 27). Peterson added 18 assists against OSU the next night. The 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman team setter missed the first three weekends of the season with a leg injury.
Ryian Hubbard contributed two service aces on the weekend at home. She ranks fifth in the Big ten in aces/set (0.35). She had three service aces combined in her first two seasons.
Kristen Kelsay owns 2,552 career assists, good for fifth place at MSU all-time. This season, she ranks ninth in the Big Ten in assists/set (7.46).
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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