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Volleyball Will "Bust Breslin" Against Michigan on Wednesday

Oct. 20, 2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State will put its perfect 4-0 all-time record in Breslin Center on the line when it hosts No. 11 Michigan on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. This will mark the second consecutive year the two teams have met in Breslin. Two nights later, Friday, Oct. 23, the Spartans will travel to No. 9 Minnesota for an 8 p.m. ET match against the Gophers.

This Week for the Spartans
Michigan State (14-6, 2-6) vs. No. 11 Michigan (17-4, 5-3)
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 • 7 p.m. ET
East Lansing, Mich. • Breslin Center
TV: Big Ten Network
Live stats:

Series Information
• MSU leads 46-31-1
Last meetings:
Nov. 14, 2008 • Ann Arbor, Mich.
UM def. MSU, 3-1 (26-28,25-17,25-22,25-17)
Sept. 27, 2008 • East Lansing, Mich.
MSU def. UM, 3-1 (25-19,15-25,25-21,25-15)

Michigan State (14-6, 2-6) at No. 9 Minnesota (15-5, 6-2)
Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 • 8 p.m. ET
Minneapolis, Minn. • The Sports Pavilion
TV: (live streaming)
Live stats:

Series Information
• MIN leads 41-16
Last meetings:
Nov. 29, 2008 • East Lansing, Mich.
MIN def. MSU, 3-1 (25-18,20-25,25-13,25-23)
Oct. 4, 2008 • Minneapolis, Minn.
MIN def. MSU, 3-1 (25-23,24-26,25-13,25-19)

Last time out
The Spartans returned home for matches against Ohio State on Friday and No. 1 Penn State on Saturday. MSU fell 3-1 to the Buckeyes, and 3-0 to the Nittany Lions. Even though Michigan State dropped both matches, MSU saw strong efforts each night from sophomore Becca Zlabis. On Friday, Zlabis tallied her fifth double-double of the season when she recorded 12 kills with 16 digs. The following night the sophomore tied for the team high with six kills. Zlabis also recorded six digs in the effort against the Nittany Lions.



Scouting the Wolverines
The Wolverines enter the weekend with a 17-4 overall record, while also posting a 5-3 conference record. Lexi Zimmerman is leading the team with 834 assists this season, while seeing 360 of those in conference play. Pacing the attack is Juliana Paz who has tallied 105 kills in conference play and 290 overall. Courtney Fletcher leads the team with 58 blocks, tallying 29 in the conference. Sloane Donhoff anchors the last line of defense for the Wolverines with her 316 overall digs, and 125 within the conference. At the helm of the Wolverines is 11th-year head coach Mark Rosen, who boasts a record of 206-136 with the school.

Scouting the Golden Gophers
The Golden Gophers enter the weekend with an overall record of 15-5, and 6-2 within the conference. Minnesota is led up front by Lauren Gibbemeyer who currently leads the team with .419 attack percentage on 219 kills, 98 of those have occurred in Big Ten play. Taylor Carico quarterbacks the Golden Gophers offense, tallying 266 assists in conference play, and 588 overall. The backcourt is led by Christine Tan who currently averages 4.09 digs per set overall and 4.35 in conferences matches. Gibbemeyer has tallied 98 total blocks this season, while seeing 33 of those in Big Ten play. Head coach Mike Hebert is currently in his 14th season with the Gophers. Hebert enters the weekend with a record of 343-123 at Minnesota.

Redshirt-freshman Mandi Karaba and junior Allyson Karaba are the third set of sisters to play under coach Cathy George during her Spartan tenure. The first pair of sisters occurred in 2005 when Marley Bellwood and Tracy Bellwood played with one another for 76 matches in Coach George's first season. The other pairing was of All-American Ashley Schatzle and current junior Megan Schatzle. Together, the Schatzle's have played in four sets together whereas the Karaba's have participated in 19 matches this season with one another. The Karaba's currently equate for 36 percent of the team's 944 digs this season. Allyson and Mandi know what it takes to be successful on the court, having led their North Muskegon high school team to a Class C state championship during the 2006 season.

On Deck
The Spartans conclude the month of October with two matches at home. On Friday, Oct. 30, MSU will host the Iowa Hawkeyes. The following night, Saturday, Oct. 31, Michigan State will conclude the month with a match against the Wisconsin Badgers. Both matches will be streamed live at and begin at 6:30 p.m. each night.

Follow the Leader
Junior Megan Schatzle has followed in the foot-steps of older sister Ashley Schatzle. Ashley, a third-team AVCA All-American in 2007, led the team with 553 kills during the year. Megan, like her older sister, is currently leading the 2009 squad with 222 kills on the season. MSU hopes Megan follows the path her older sister paved for her, as the last time MSU made it to the NCAA Tournament was Ashley's senior season.

Sophomore Sensations
With the 2008 No. 7 recruiting class able to see ample amount of court time last season, the sophomore class seems to really be finding their element this season. Collectively, the class has amounted for 580 of the 1,028 team kills. Also, the sophomores have also accounted for 185 total blocks. Having added redshirt-sophomore Jenilee Rathje to their class, the Spartans are bound for success in the years to come. The class has collectively earned three of the four MVP honors this season for the Spartans.

Movin' On Up
Sophomore Natalie Emro currently ranks eighth all-time in career assists with 2,027. Senior Vanessa King recently moved into seventh place all-time with 410 total blocks in a career. King also ranks fourth all-time with 376 block assists.

And So It Goes
MSU recently saw its third-best start to a season snapped in the Big Ten opener on the road against Purdue. This marked the Spartans' first loss since Nov. 29, 2008, against Minnesota. The second longest occurred during the 1976, when the team started with a 15-0 record. The longest was during the 1975 season, when MSU posted a perfect 16-0 record, before suffering its first loss. The Spartans also saw their longest streak in the AVCA top-25 since 2003, when they were ranked for nine consecutive weeks, snapped after six consecutive weeks in the rankings.

Lucky No. 12
Both of the Spartans' upset wins over AVCA ranked opponents have been ranked 12th at the time of the match. The first meeting occurred on Aug. 28 in MSU's first match of the season against Southern California. This past weekend against Illinois on Oct. 2, Michigan State once against posted a win over a 12th-ranked team. Both matches have been 3-2 wins in favor of the Spartans.

Home Sweet Home
The Spartans are currently in their longest home stand of the season when they close out the month of October with five of six matches in East Lansing. The total length of the time at home is 15 days.

It's All In the Rankings
MSU is currently tabbed as the 18th-ranked team in the recent NCAA Division I Volleyball RPI Rankings. The Spartans are one of five Big Ten schools to be ranked in the top-20, which is tied with the Pac-10 for the most from a conference within the nation. Michigan State trails only No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Illinois, No. 6 Michigan and No. 7 Minnesota within the conference. RPI is one of several tools used to select teams for the NCAA Championship.

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