No. 5 Spartans Head to Minneapolis, Madison This Week
Oct. 15, 2013
MSU hits the road for a pair of games this week after wrapping up a four-game unbeaten homestand. MSU plays at No. 10 Minnesota on Thursday, and at No. 15 Wisconsin in a Sunday matinee.
MSU travels to Minneapolis for a midweek tilt with the Gophers on Thursday. The Gophers have lost two of their last four matches, but both were to top-10 teams, and on the road at Nebraska (0-3) and Penn State (2-3). Minnesota is 16-3 overall and is 4-2 in the Big Ten, its most recent action a 3-0 sweep of Ohio State.
MSU snapped a 10-match losing streak to the Gophers with a 3-1 win at Jenison Field House last November.
Thursday night's game will air live on ESPN2, with Sam Gore and Karch Kiraly on the call.
MSU's showdown with No. 10 Minnesota is the second straight top-10 matchup for MSU. It is just the 15th game in MSU history which features two teams in the AVCA top-10. MSU is 7-7 in the previous 14 games. MSU is 3-2 in top-10 matchups in which it is the higher-ranked team.
On Sunday, MSU is headed to Madison for its first meeting of the season with the Badgers. The Spartans have won six of the last seven meetings with Wisconsin.
The Badgers are 15-3 overall and tied for fourth in the Big Ten with Minnesota at 4-2. They have lost two of their last three (also at Nebraska and Penn State). Wisconsin is under the tutelage of first year head coach Kelly Sheffield, who spent five years at Dayton before he was hired last January.
Sunday's game will air live on the Big Ten Network, with Mike Wolf and Audrey Flaugh calling the match.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
The Spartans, at 17-1, are tied for third nationally (with Florida) in winning percentage (.944). Missouri and Colorado State are the lone remaining undefeated teams in Division I volleyball.
MSU's 17-1 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.
MSU's conference start, 6-0, is its best since 1996. The Spartans are the lone undefeated team in Big Ten Conference play.
Michigan State moved up in the AVCA Top 25 this week, ascending two spots to No. 5. The Spartans are one of three teams to receive first-place votes (2) in this week's poll. MSU has achieved its highest national ranking since being ranked third in the 1996 pre-season AVCA 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 NCAA's second RPI report was released on Monday, Oct. 14, and the Spartans maintained their spot 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. MSU is a perfect 4-0 against ranked teams this season. The Spartans have won twice when ranked lower than their opponent (against Oregon and Penn State), and twice when ranked higher.
The Spartans have won 15 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 started has started 6-0 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 5-0 record in matches that go four or five sets (3-0 in four-set, and 2-0 in 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 2.86 blocks per set is fifth in the Big Ten and ranks 47th nationally.
MSU averages 1.74 service aces per set, which ranks 15th nationally. The Spartans have 106 aces on the season, more than double its opponents (51).
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .291, which is third in Conference and 10th nationally. MSU's kills per set (13.93) is 31st nationally and second 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 528-339 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, 23,536 fans over nine home matches, currently ranks eighth nationally; its average of 2,615 per game ranks 11th. The Spartans had a season-best crowd of more than 4,200 last weekend against Nebraska.
Senior Lauren Wicinski recently surpassed the 2,000 career kills mark, and has a total of 2,144 after the Iowa & Nebraska matches. She ranks second all-time at MSU, and needs 148 to become MSU's all-time kills leader, passing recent MSU Athletics Hall-of Fame inductee Jenna Wrobel. Wicinski ranks fifth all-time in the Big Ten annals, and needs 111 kills to move into the NCAA's top-25 all-time.
Wicinski is third in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.58), which is 12th nationally, and is fifth nationally and leads the Big Ten in points (5.44/set). She ranks second in the Big Ten in service aces (0.47 per set), which is 17th nationally.
Wicinski leads the country's active players in several categories. She ranks first among active players in career kills (2,144), total attempts (4,857), and aces (251); she's second in kills/set (4.82), 10th in attempts per game (10.95), 14th in sets played (445) and tied for 17th in matches played (123).
Wicinski is MSU's career record holder in service aces (251), which is fourth all-time in the Big Ten. She had four aces in each of the last three weekends, and has 28 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 4,857, and needs 61 to break into the top 10.
Senior middle blocker Alexis Mathews leads the Big Ten and is fourth nationally in hitting percentage (.455) and is 14th in blocks per set (1.40), which is second in the Conference.
Mathews owns a .344 career hitting percentage, which ranks 21st 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 tied for third in total blocks (524).
Mathews moved into the Big Ten's 500-blocks club on Sept. 29th against Ohio State. With 524 career blocks, she currently ranks 29th 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.
Fitterer had a career day against Nebraska on Oct. 12, going for a career-best 11 kills and hitting .500 (11-2-18). She also had five blocks against the Huskers.
Junior libero Kori Moster was instrumental for the Spartans in the win over Nebraska, where she had a match-high 20 digs to go with six assists , one ace, and zero receiving errors in 31 tries.
Moster leads the Big Ten in digs per set (4.33). She has 1,340 in her career, which is third place all-time at MSU. She needs 144 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 regular season.
Moster is currently 38th 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 was sixth in a single season.
Moster had four service aces against Iowa and Nebraska, and had five in the weekend series with Illinois and Northwestern. She has 21 on the season, second behind Wicinski's 28. 10 of her 21 aces have come in the last six matches.
Chloe Reinig averages 3.19 kills per set and is hitting .401 on the season, second behind Alexis Mathews. Reinig hit .636 against Iowa (7-0-11) and had a career-high 13 kills against Nebraska on 33 swings, also her career high. Her .636 is a Spartan season high for hitting percentage.
Kristen Kelsay owns 2,636 career assists, good for sixth place at MSU all-time. This season, she ranks ninth in the Big Ten in assists/set (7.27).
With Michigan State running a 6-2 offense, neither Kelsay (7.27 A/s) nor sophomore (and 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree) Halle Peterson (4.61) rank among the conference's top five in assists. As a team, however, the Spartans rank fourth in assists per set, (12.82), behind conference leader Nebraska (13.48).
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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