Spartans To Battle Illinois And Purdue In Big Ten Action
Oct. 27, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The Spartan volleyball team hits the road to face Illinois and Purdue in Big Ten action this weekend. MSU stands at 10-10 overall, with a 3-7 conference slate after snapping a five game losing streak defeating Northwestern at Jenison Field House last Saturday. State ranks a crucial seventh in the conference standings prior to this weekend, were Penn State continues to dominate with an undefeated 10-0 Big Ten mark.
WIN WIN WIN! - The Spartans snapped a five game conference losing streak on Saturday night with a five game victory over the Northwestern Wildcats in Homecoming Weekend festivities. State had four hitters tally double-digit kill totals (Hohl-16, Johnson-22, Wallin-13, Schatzle-12) including a career-best 16 by outside hitter Jessica Hohl.
5-GAMERS - Halfway through the Big Ten season MSU has played in five five game conference matches and eight total in 2005 - a 3-5 record in those games. In conference play, MSU has five game wins vs. Iowa and Northwestern, in non-conference play State defeated Virginia Commonwealth.
BIG TEN RECAP - The Spartans improved to 3-7 in the Big Ten with the thrilling five game victory over Northwestern on Saturday night. Leading the way for MSU in the conference statistical standings in Katie Johnson with 4.08 kills per game in Big Ten matches, while Davis adds 12.60 assists per game and Colaluca ranks third on the charts with 5.33 digs per game. As a team, MSU ranks fifth in kills per game with 15.36, while the 14.14 assists per game by the Spartans is sixth on the charts.
NATIONAL SCENE - As of the Oct. 25th NCAA National Rankings, three Spartans ranked among the nation's elite. Katie Johnson ranks ninth in the nation with 5.13 kills per game, Mickey Davis boasts a 13.00 assists per game average - 23rd in the nation, while Nicole Colaluca ranks 16th at the libero position with 5.43 digs per game. (The NCAA releases national stats on Tuesday of each week.)
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI - Illinois is 11-10 and 2-8 in the Big Ten heading into play vs. the Spartans and Wolverines this weekend. The Illini are led by outside hitter Rachel VanMeter with 5.78 kills per game, second in the national standings this week. Illinois looks to break a four game losing streak vs. the Spartans.
SCOUTING THE BOILERMAKERS - Purdue has been on a winning tear of late, winning seven straight in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers are 18-3, 7-3 Big Ten in 2005. Setter Renata Dargan leads the Boilermaker offense with 13.16 assists per game, second among Big Ten competitors.
BACK IN ACTION - Sophomore outside hitter Katie Johnson returned to the MSU starting lineup last weekend when the squad hosted Wisconsin and Northwestern in Homecoming weekend festivities. She came back on fire! Johnson's 24 kills vs. Wisconsin and 22 vs. Northwestern were both match-high's, while her .333 hitting percentage vs. NU was one of her top performances of the year.
CAREER EFFORTS - Jessica Hohl has played a solid sophomore campaign in 2005 for the Spartans. Her 16 kills in the five game MSU victory vs. Northwestern was a new career-high, while her 55 total blocks for the season is among team leaders heading into action vs. Illinois and Purdue.
COLA' RULES - State's libero Nicole Colaluca tallied 18 and 33 kills respectively vs. Wisconsin and Northwestern last weekend at Jenison Field House. Colaluca has tallied double-digit dig totals in all 20 of State's matches this season, scoring better than 20 digs in 10 of those contests. Her 45 digs vs. Sacramento State on Sept. 17 marked the highest dig total in the country to that point. 2005 marks the first year in the Green and White for Colaluca - she spent last season competing at St. Johns.
SNAPPIN' IT - MSU snapped a five game losing streak with the 3-2 victory vs. Northwestern last Saturday. The streak marked the longest losing streak of the season thus far and the most lengthy since mid-season 2004 when MSU lost six straight from Oct. 2 to Oct. 22.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS - Several Spartans are on pace to set and break records by the 2005 season's end. Katie Johnson has 12 matches with at least 20 kills this season - the mark ranks her tied for fourth with Kim Schram in the single-season record books. Mickey Davis holds a 12.86 assists per game mark heading into weekend action with the Illini and Boilermakers. Her mark ranks her 28th in national standings this week, while if the season were to end today - she would be 9th on the single-season record charts.
D-D-D-DEFENSE! - We need more of it! The Spartans are getting out-blocked 223.5 to 172.5 in 2005 - a 51 total block difference. Statistically speaking, MSU holds the 15.3 to 12.9 digs per game advantage over opponents in 2005. In Big Ten play, the competition holds the 123.5 to 79.0 block advantage, while State continues to hold the 15.5 to 14.1 digs per game upperhand.
HITTING ERROR WOES - Even though State averages 15.8 kills per game compared to the 13.4 kpg of its opponents, 646 hitting errors against 484 of its opponents has hurt the Spartan offense. In its losses, MSU averages 14.9 kills per game, however the 8.7 hitting errors at the net per game propelled momentum in the way of the opponent.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING - The Spartans need to work on what they can control throughout the length of the match. Service errors, ball handling errors, etc. In the wins, MSU averages a .238 hitting at the net, while in the 10 losses in 2005, MSU has averaged just .152 with 357 errors.
THE CHANCE... - A year ago the Big Ten sent seven teams to the NCAA Championship Tournament. Heading into weekend action, MSU sits in seventh place with a 3-7 conference slate. Penn State is set to capture its second consecutive Big Ten title, however the middle of the pack is up for grabs. After traveling to Illinois and Purdue, MSU returns home to host Iowa and Minnesota. This season State is 1-1 vs. the Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers.
HALFWAY HOME - After a pair of wins this past weekend, No. 3 Penn State has opened its quest for a third straight Big Ten title to a pair of matches in the league standings. The Nittany Lions are now a perfect 10-0 at the halfway mark in conference play and lead by two over second-place and 11th-ranked Wisconsin (8-2). No. 11 Ohio State and No. 16 Purdue, both 7-3 in league action, are tied for third, while No. 18 Minnesota sits fifth in the standings at 6-4.
FIVE BIG TEN SCHOOLS RANKED IN NATION'S TOP 20 - For the sixth consecutive week, five Big Ten teams are ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Penn State (No. 3), Wisconsin (11), Purdue (16), Minnesota (18) and Ohio State (19) all found spots among the top 20 this week.
WHO TO WATCH - Nicole Colaluca and Megan Wallin continue to climb the all-time charts at MSU. In her first three seasons with the Spartans, Wallin hit better than .300 each year, while in 2005 she leads MSU hitters with a .241 mark. Colaluca continues to stay on pace to break numerous defensive records at MSU, currently she holds a 5.39 dpg mark.
IT LOOKS LIKE THIS - At home, MSU is 5-4, on the road the Spartans are 3-4 and at a neutral site MSU is 2-2. MSU needs to get on its winning ways at home during conference season however, in 2005 MSU is 1-4 in home contests against Big Ten opponents.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN - `MSU struggled on the road last season finishing with a 3-9 record with wins over Wichita State, Indiana and Northwestern. Thus far in 2005, the Spartans are 3-4 away from Jenison Field House.
DID YOU KNOW? - Prior to the installation of the wooden playing surface this summer in Jenison, the Spartans had played their home matches on the sport court surface from 1993-2004, a span of 12 seasons. When volleyball started at MSU, the Spartans competed on the main wooden floor at Jenison.
GEORGE TRACK RECORD - First-year head coach Cathy George has a celebrated coaching record. She was the first woman to coach a team to the NCAA Final Four in just her first season at the helm of the Texas-Arlington program in 1989. Posting winning seasons and strong academic numbers are key aspects of any Cathy George run program. Student-athletes boasted a 100 percent graduation rate during her time at WMU - an amazing figure coaching at any level of athletics.
TOURNEY TALK - The 2004 campaign marked the first season in the last 10 that the Spartans did not participate in the NCAA Championship Tournament - an impressive run, and one of the longest streaks in the NCAA prior to missing tourney action in 2004. During that 10-year streak, the Spartans posted a combined 11 victories.
RECORD BREAKERS IN `04 - Senior Marley Bellwood enters this season as the new record holder for digs per game as she tallied 395 digs in 92 games last season for the Spartans. Her average, 4.29, breaks a 15-year old MSU record.
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