Oct. 11, 2017
Michigan State is back on the road for the fourth weekend of Big Ten play, heading to State College, Penn. and Piscataway, NJ for the Penn State-Rutgers pairing.
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.
Friday's match will air live on Big Ten Network, MSU's first match on the league's flagship this season. Both matches this week will have a webstream available on BTN2Go (subscription required).
Friday's match pits two of the league's 5-1 teams against one another - No. 2 Penn State and No. 10 Spartans face off for the first of two matches in 2017. The teams have met just once in each of the last three seasons - all matches that went the way of the Nittany Lions, who hold a five-game winning streak in the series. MSU's last win came in September of 2013, a 3-2 win over then-No. 1 PSU at Rec Hall.
Michigan State split its matches in week three, falling 3-1 at No. 4 Nebraska and rebounding with a four-set victory at home over Wisconsin to complete the season sweep of the Badgers.
Michigan State moved up four spots to No. 10 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll, tied for the largest jump of the week. This is MSU's highest spot occupied in the national poll this season.
Six Big Ten programs earned spots in the latest AVCA coaches poll, all among the top 16: No. 2 Penn State, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 10 MSU. No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 16 Purdue. Both Michigan and Illinois State are receiving votes.
MSU has played five games among teams either in the AVCA Top 25 or receiving votes since Big Ten play began, with its lone loss coming to No. 4 Nebraska. MSU has beaten No. 1 Minnesota, Wisconsin when it was ranked both at No. 5 and No. 7, and (RV) Ohio State. With three wins over top 10 teams so far this season, it is the most top-10 victories in a season in school history. Two of host top-10 wins came on the road.
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).
Twelve Big Ten volleyball teams are ranked in the top 50 of the NCAA RPI as of Monday, including eight of the top 30: No. 1 Penn State, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 13 Purdue, No. 15 Michigan State, No. 22 Illinois, No. 29 Ohio State, No. 36 Michigan, No. 39 Maryland, No. 47 Iowa and No. 48 Northwestern.
MSU is 7-42 all-time against Penn State, and the Nittany Lions enter Friday's match with a 15-1 overall record with the lone blemish a home loss to then-No. 14 Nebraska, 3-0. The Spartans last won in State College in 2013 - redshirt seniors Brooke Kranda and Megan Tompkins were a part of that team.
Haleigh Washington is hitting a Big Ten-best .509 and is averaging 2.84 kills and 1.56 blocks per set. Simone Lee is averaging 4.02 kills per frame and hitting .348, and Ali Frantti is averaging 2.45 kills per frame.
MSU is 7-0 all-time against Rutgers, dating back to before the Scarlet Knights entered the Big Ten for the 2014 season. MSU has never dropped a set to Rutgers, and Saturday's match will be the only one between the schools this season.
The Scarlet Knights face Michigan on Friday and are looking for their first Big Ten win of the season - Rutgers enters the weekend with a 5-13 overall mark.
Kamila Cieslik is leading the pack with a 3.0 kills per set average and hits .229, sharing the team lead. Jasmine Stackhouse is averaging 0.93 blocks per set, followed closely by Stasa Miljevic (0.89).
MSU is holding opponents to a .153 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the Big Ten and 18th nationally. Wisconsin hit a season-best .295 against MSU, one of just six opponents to hit .200 or better. MSU has held five opponents under .100.
The Spartans are second in the Big Ten and rank 20th nationally in service aces (1.64 per set), MSU boasts three individuals among the league's top five in aces per set (Rachel Minarick, Holly Toliver, and Brooke Kranda).
Overall, MSU ranks in the top 40 nationally in seven categories: 18th in opponent hitting percentage (.153), 20th in aces (1.64/s), 22nd in kills (14.16/s), 30th in assists (13.14/s), 38th in blocks (2.55/s), and hitting percentage (.255). MSU is also 28th in winning percentage (12-3, .800).
MSU has 82 service aces on the season and ranks second in the Big Ten with 1.64 per frame. The Spartans have allowed just 41 aces against.
MSU has had six double-digit blocking performances this season, and only one in Big Ten play. The Spartans had seven blocks in each of the last two games, and rank fifth in the league in blocking (2.56/s)
With 16.06 digs per set, the Spartans are second in the B1G rankings. MSU has six players averaging between 2.14 and 3.82 digs per set.
MSU continues to have a well-distributed offense. The Spartans have three players averaging better than 3.0 kills per frame.
MSU has had three matches of a .300 hitting percentage or better since Big Ten play began, posting a season-best .396 vs. Ohio State (Sept. 20) and most recently a .348 hitting percentage against Wisconsin.
The Spartans have won seven of eight games after having a six-game winning streak snapped at No. 4 Wisconsin last Wednesday.
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 six wins 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 244-166 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 (1,228) and Wisconsin's John Cook (673). She ranks 22nd among active coaches in coaching victories.
MSU's match at Nebraska (Oct. 4) was the 1.000 in the career of Cathy George.
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 has averaged 3,506 fans for each of its three Big Ten matches at Jenison Field House, and 2,493 over six home matches. MSU currently ranks 16th in Division I in overall attendance (12,467) and 10th in average attendance (2,493).
In the last eight 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 more than 2.5 kills per set, three who average 0.85 blocks per set or more, and four starters boast dig averages of 2.8 or more per frame.
MSU also has three players among the top five in the Big Ten (and among national leaders) in service aces per set: Rachel Minarick (0.45, 2nd B1G/25th nationally), Holly Toliver (0.41, 4th B1G/58th), and Brooke Kranda (0.40, 5th B1G/63rd).
Three Spartans average nearly a block per set or better: Alyssa Garvelink (1.55, 2nd B1G/8th nationally), Brooke Kranda (0.85) and Megan Tompkins (0.90).
MSU's outside hitter trio of Brooke Kranda, Holly Toliver, and Autumn Bailey all produced 3.38 kills per set or better in last week's games, with Bailey adding 3.88 digs per set and Toliver 2.88.
Autumn Bailey currently is second among the Spartans with 3.14 kills per frame, is hitting .245, and is averaging 3.71 digs and 0.20 aces per set. She has also made just three reception errors on the year in 215 tries, a .986 reception percentage. 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 recorded her third and fourth double-doubles in Big Ten play last week, helping MSU to a split against top-10 teams. She had zero reception errors in 36 tries, averaged 3.88 digs per set, and contributed 3.5 kills per frame as a six-rotation standout. At No. 4 Nebraska, she had 11 kills and 18 digs, and followed that up with a 16-kill, 13-dig performance (both team bests) in a home victory over No. 7 Wisconsin. Bailey averaged 3.88 digs on the week, and in the Big Ten season is averaging 4.0 digs per set and 3.50 kills per frame
Nationally, Bailey ranks eighth among active players in kills. She has 1,580 career kills (which includes 1,059 in her two seasons at Marquette), and she is sixth among active players in career attempts (4,260). She also boasts 1,263 career digs, which is 60th among active Division I players - but she is sixth in career digs among six-rotation players.
Brooke Kranda averages 3.31 kills per set to lead the MSU offense, (12th in the Big Ten) and is averaging 0.85 blocks and 0.40 aces per set (5th B1G and 63rd nationally).
Kranda had a team-best 16 kills against Nebraska last Wednesday, and then came back with 12 kills and six aces against Wisconsin., hitting 320. Her six aces were one off the Jenison Field House record. Her career high is nine in a match, set at Purdue last November.
Rachel Minarick averaged 11.32 assists per frame against last week's two top-seven opponents. In MSU's four-set win over No. 7 Wisconsin, she dished out 52 assists (one off her season best) and just missed a double-double with nine digs, adding four kills (.667) and leading her team to a .348 hitting percentage. She also had 33 assists and eight digs in a road match at No. 4 Nebraska. She averaged 0.73 kills without an error, hitting .268 on the week, and averaged 2.14 digs per frame.
Minarick pushed her career assist total to 3,875, good for third place all-time in the MSU annals in that category. She is 14th among all current Division I players in that category. She is looking to become the 45th member of the Big Ten 4,000 assists club.
Minarick averages 10.61 assists (10th, B1G), 0.45 aces (second, B1G/26th nationally), and 2.41 digs per set.
Minarick is a Academic All-America candidate who boasts a 3.97 cumulative GPA as a Kinesiology major. She is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honoree, and last year earned CoSIDA Academic All-Region kudos.
Holly Toliver ranks third on the team kills per set (3.12) and second in hitting percentage (.254) and is contributing 2.14 digs and 0.41 aces, and 0.51 blocks per frame. She is fourth in the B1G and 58th nationally in aces per set.
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 (485) and block assists (435). Her 1.22 blocks per set average over four years is fourth all-time at MSU.
Garvelink currently second in the B1G and eighth nationally in the B1G in blocks per set (1.58), which is her career-best average. Her hitting percentage of .346 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 (485), and is 13th in blocks per set (1.22).
Senior middle Megan Tompkins is averaging 0.90 blocks per set (good for second on the team), and also chipping in 1.25 kills per frame.
Tompkins was second among Spartans with three blocks in the most recent matchup with Wisconsin, and added four kills on the day.
Jamye Cox has been the Spartan libero in each of the last eight matches. Cox averaged 1.12 assists and 3.75 digs per frame last week for MSU as she continues to grow into the position at the collegiate level.
Cox is averaging 2.96 digs per set on the season, which ranks 12th in the Big Ten. She has worn the libero jersey for the last eight matches, over which she is averaging 4.0 digs per set.
Cox has played the most sets of any of MSU's freshmen (49 of 50). She is second in the Big Ten among freshmen in digs per frame.
Abby Monson had started 40 consecutive matches at libero, and is averaging 3.82 digs per set. Monson missed four matches with injury.
Samantha McLean has become a regular contributor for the Spartans in the back row, and is averaging 1.15 digs per set and is perfect in serve-receive with 26 attempts and no errors.
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 entertains travel partner/archrival Michigan next Wednesday (Oct. 18, 7 pm) in the annual Jam Jenison match in East Lansing, then will head back east to take on Maryland on Saturday, Oct. 21 in a 5:30 pm start .