B1G Weekend for No. 7 Volleyball
Oct. 9, 2013
MSU has a big home weekend on tap, welcoming Iowa and Nebraska to Jenison Field House. Games on Friday and Saturday both start at 7 p.m.
Friday will be MSU's annual "Dig Pink" night for Breast Cancer Awareness. The Spartans will wear pink jerseys, and there will be a recognition of those in attendance who are fighting or are survivors of the disease. All fans are encouraged to wear pink as well.
MSU takes on Iowa on Friday. Iowa has started the Big Ten season 0-4, but took No. 8 Minnesota to five sets on Saturday night in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes went 9-3 in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and shared one common opponent with the Spartans - Iowa beat Eastern Michigan 3-1, while MSU dispached the Eagles 3-0.
MSU owns a seven-game winning streak in the series against the Hawkeyes, dating back to 2009. MSU is 15-2 over the last 17 meetings.
Saturday's contest against Nebraska is a battle of top-10 teams, and they enter the weekend as the lone unbeatens in Big Ten Conference play. The Huskers will play at Michigan on Friday before coming to East Lansing on Saturday. The Huskers had a five-set battle with Wisconsin their last time out, but the lone blemishes on their 11-2 record are to Auburn and then-No. 6 Texas.
MSU recorded its first-ever program victory over Nebraska in last year's matchup at Jenison. Since the Huskers joined the Big Ten, they own a 3-1 series lead over the Spartans.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
Saturday's contest against Nebraska will be MSU's 14th all-time where both teams are ranked in the top 10. MSU owns a 6-7 record in Top 10 matchups; the last one came against Florida on Dec. 13, 1996 in the NCAA Central Region final. All-time, Jenison Field House has hosted six top-ten matchups in volleyball program history.
The Spartans, at 15-1, are fourth nationally in winning percentage (.938). Missouri, North Carolina, and Colorado State are the lone remaining undefeated teams in Division I volleyball.
MSU's 15-1 start is its best since its 1995 Final Four season, in which it went 27-1 to start the year and won its first 16 Big Ten matches. MSU's 2012 squad started 15-2.
Michigan State moved up in the AVCA Top 25 this week, ascending two spots to No. 7. The Spartans are one of five teams to receive first-place votes (1) 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 three in the top 10 and all eight in the top 20. 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 NCAA's first RPI report was released on Monday, Oct. 7, and the Spartans debut in the RPI ratings at No. 9. The Big Ten boasts three top-10 RPI teams (Penn State, Nebraska, and the Spartans), and seven in the top 25. The RPI is the most significant tool used in selecting the NCAA Tournament field.
The Spartans have won 13 consecutive matches dating back to the opening tournament at Virginia Tech. It is the sixth-longest winning streak in program history, and the longest winning streak since the 1996 season. MSU's longest streak is 21 games, set in 1995.
MSU turned in its two best hitting performances of the season last weekend. Against Illinois, the Spartans hit .439 as a team (46-10-82), while hitting .360 (45-14-86) against Northwestern.
MSU started has started 4-0 in the Big Ten for just the third time in school history, and first time since 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.
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 2.65 blocks per set is third in the Big Ten and ranks 30th nationally.
MSU averages 1.78 service aces per set, which ranks 11th nationally.
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .282, which is third in Conference and 15th nationally. MSU's kills per set (18.85) is 41st nationally and fourth in the Big Ten.
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, 16,880 fans over seven home matches, currently ranks 12th nationally; its average of 2,411 per game ranks 14th. The Spartans had more than 3,000 fans at each match against Illinois and Northwestern last weekend.
Lauren Wicinski was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday, her third weekly honor of the season and second straight. She shared the honor with Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson. Wicinski led all players in both matches in kills, hitting .517 on Friday with 18 kills in a sweep of Illinois. On Saturday, she compiled 19 kills, and hit .452. She also added six blocks on the weekend and 11 digs.
Wicinski's 19 kills was MSU's match high for a three-set game this season.
Wicinski recently surpassed the 2,000 career kills mark, and has a total of 2,112 after the Illinois & Northwestern games. She needs 143 more to move into the NCAA's top-25 all-time; she currently ranks 34th.
With 181 more kills, Wicinski will become MSU's all-time kills leader, passing recent MSU Athletics Hall-of Fame inductee Jenna Wrobel.
Wicinski is second in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.58), which is 11th nationally, and is also eighth nationally and second in the Big Ten in points (5.44/set). She also ranks second in the Big Ten in service aces (0.43 per set), which is 25th nationally.
Wicinski leads the country's active players in several categories. She ranks first among active players in career kills (2,112), kills/set (4.82), total attempts (4,797), and aces (243); she's ninth in attempts per game (10.95), 13th in sets played (438) and tied for 17th in matches played (121).
Wicinski is MSU's career record holder in service aces (243), which is fourth all-time in the Big Ten. She had four aces in each of the last two weekends, and has 20 on the season. She ranks third all-time at MSU and is just outside the all-time top 10 in the Big Ten in attack attempts - she has 4,797, and needs 121 to break into the top 10.
Senior middle blocker Alexis Mathews is eighth nationally (and third the Big Ten) in hitting percentage (.459) and is 11th in blocks per set (1.42), which is second in the Conference.
Mathews had a nine-block performance against Northwestern, tying her season best. On the weekend, she averaged 2.44 blocks per set and hit .524 (13-2-21).
Mathews owns a .343 career hitting percentage, which ranks 22nd among active players in Division I volleyball and second all-time at MSU. She ranks sixth among active players in blocks per set (1.27) and second in total blocks (515).
Mathews moved into the Big Ten's 500-blocks club on Sept. 29th against Ohio State. With 515 career blocks, she currently ranks 34th all-time in the Big Ten and fourth at MSU: Angela Moreley (637), Dana Cooke (581), and Val Sterk (575) are ahead of her on both lists. Allyssah Fitterer and Mathews are tied for the team's best single-game blocking total this season (9). Mathews had her second nine-block game on Oct. 5 against Northwestern, all block assists. She 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 leads the Big Ten in digs per set (4.41). She has 1,314 in her career, which is fourth place all-time at MSU. She needs 170 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 currently 43rd in the Big Ten all-time in digs. 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.
Moster had five service aces in the weekend series with Illinois and Northwestern. She has 17 on the season, second behind Wicinskis's 24.
Chloe Reinig averages 3.3 kills per set and is hitting .407 on the season, second behind Alexis Mathews. Last weekend against Illinois and Northwestern, Reinig hit .571 over the two games, (23-3-35), and added five blocks.
Reinig hit .579 against Illinois (12-1-19), the team's single-match high this season. The previous high was Wicinski hitting .571 (14-2-21) against Cincinnati.
Sophomore Halle Peterson averaged 4.67 assists per set (28 total) last weekend. The 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman team setter missed the first three weekends of the season with a leg injury, but is averaging 4.67 assists per set since her return.
Kristen Kelsay owns 2,593 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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