Spartans Start Four-Game Road Swing at Northwestern Friday
Nov. 7, 2013
Michigan State starts a four-game road trip this weekend, and plays at Northwestern and Illinois on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Michigan State snapped a four-match losing streak by sweeping Ohio State on Friday, 3-0. MSU swept the season series against the Buckeyes for the first time since 2008. The Spartans were then swept by Penn State on Saturday, splitting the season series between the teams, with each club winning on the road.
MSU's first match of the weekend will be Friday night at Northwestern. The Wildcats have split each of their last three weekends, most recently battling through a five-set heartbreaker at No. 11 Nebraska last Saturday.
The first meeting of the year at Jenison against the Wildcats was a 3-0 MSU sweep; Lauren Wicinski and Chloe Reinig were MSU's top offensive weapons, as Wicinski posted a 19-kill, four-ace, six-dig performance along with three blocks; she hit .452 in the match, while Reinig (11-2-16) hit .562. Reinig had four blocks to go along with her 11 kills. Alexis Mathews had nine blocks and six kills. Seven Wildcats recorded three kills on the night, NU's match-high; Caleigh Ryan had 20 assists, and Katie Dutchman had three blocks.
Illinois, 11-12 overall and tied for fourth place in the Big Ten with a 7-6 record, has split every conference weekend thus far. Illinois rallied from a 2-0 deficit on Wednesday at home to defeat Michigan, and is idle until MSU comes to Champaign on Saturday.
When MSU and Illinois met in early October, Lauren Wicinski posted a game-best 18 kills, four digs, and two blocks, while hitting .519 as MSU swept the Illini, 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-18). Senior Kristen Kelsay had a game-best 22 assists on the night and also added eight digs; she faced off across from her sister, Illinois freshman McKenna, for the first time in a competitive game. The younger Kelsay entered the game in the second set and had a team-best 14 assists, a dig, and a service ace; Liz McMahon had 11 kills and Joscelyn Birks had six kills and eight digs.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
At 6-4, MSU compiled its best first-half Big Ten record under Cathy George. In 2012, MSU went 4-6, but went 7-3 in the second half to finish 11-9.
Six of MSU's final eight regular-season games will be played away from Jenison Field House.
MSU has four games remaining against the current top six in the Big Ten standings. MSU has Minnesota and Wisconsin at home, and will play at Purdue and Nebraska.
Michigan State moved up one spot in the AVCA Top 25 this week, and is ranked No. 13. On Oct. 14, MSU was ranked No. 5, its highest national ranking since being ranked third in the 1996 pre-season AVCA poll.
The Big Ten has a national-best seven teams in the top-25 again this week, and all are in the top 17. Penn State remained at No. 2, while Minnesota is No. 9, and Nebraska is No. 11 MSU is No. 13, followed by No. 14 Purdue, No. 16 Wisconsin, and No. 17 Michigan. Both Illinois and Northwestern are receiving votes in the poll. According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, 10 Big Ten teams appear in the top 50, including seven in the top 25, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 23 Illinois, No. 22 Michigan State, No. 25 Michigan, No. 30 Purdue, No. 40 Ohio State and No. 48 Northwestern.
MSU is now 4-4 against ranked teams this season. The Spartans have are 2-1 when ranked lower than their opponent (against Oregon and Penn State), and are 2-3 when ranked higher.
Of MSU's six losses this season, four are to teams in the top 25 of the RPI. MSU's strength of schedule is 49th in the country.
Before their recent four-game skid, the Spartans had won 15 consecutive matches dating back to the opening tournament at Virginia Tech. It was the sixth-longest winning streak in program history, and the longest winning streak since the 1996 season.
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 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 2.56 blocks per set is fourth in the Big Ten and ranks 45th nationally. MSU has turned in some of its highest blocking totals of the season over the last three weeks - it had 15.0 against Michigan (second), 13.0 blocks against Minnesota (third), 10.0 against both Wisconsin and Indiana (fourth), and 9.0 vs. Ohio State. The Spartans' season-high is 15.5 blocks in the win over Virginia Tech.
MSU averages 1.61 service aces per set, which leads the Big Ten and ranks 23rd nationally. The Spartans have 137 aces on the season, nearly double its opponents (76).
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .251, which is fourth in Conference and 39th nationally. MSU's kills per set (13.52) is fifth in the Big Ten.
MSU's home attendance, 37,804 fans over 13 home matches, currently ranks fourth nationally; its average of 2,908 per game ranks ninth. MSU's crowd of 6,183 for the Michigan match on Oct. 23 set an attendance record for the volleyball program at Jenison Field House. The only larger crowd for the Spartans was In 2010, when MSU played its senior night match at the Breslin Center; the 6,824 in attendance was the largest to ever attend a Spartan home volleyball match.
Senior Lauren Wicinski has a total of 2,235 career kills. She ranks second all-time at MSU, and needs 57 to become MSU's all-time kills leader Wicinski ranks fifth all-time in the Big Ten annals, and is 27th all-time in the NCAA record book.
Wicinski was held to just five kills vs. Penn State, tying her career low. She has had just eight matches in her four-year career below double-digit kills. It was just the fourth time this season that she was not MSU's kills leader (or co-leader) in a match. She led MSU with 14 kills, eight digs, and two blocks against Ohio State last Friday.
Wicinski is third in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.36), which is 23rd nationally, and ranks 12th nationally and is second in the Big Ten in points (5.12/set). She ranks second in the Big Ten in service aces (0.45 per set), which is 21st nationally.
Wicinski leads the country's active players in several categories. She ranks first among active players in career kills (2,235), total attempts (5,155), and aces (259); she's second in kills/set (4.77), 13th in attempts per game (10.96), 14th in sets played (469) and tied for 17th in matches played (127).
Wicinski has moved into sixth place all-time in the Big Ten and second at MSU in career attempts (5,155). She moved up two spots - she passed Katie Bruzdzinski of Michigan (5,097) and MSU's Veronica Morales (5,104). Bruzdzinski has ties to the MSU program - she is married to Spartan assistant Mike Gawlik.
Wicinski is one of 10 finalists 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. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website (www.SeniorCLASSaward.com) through December 9. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner, who will be announced during the NCAA Division I Championship weekend. Fans are encouraged to vote daily, and use the hashtag #Vote4Lo via social media.
Mathews leads the Big Ten and is 14th nationally in hitting percentage (.426) and is second in the B1G in blocks per set (1.51), which ranks seventh nationally.
Mathews, who had 43 blocks in the previous five matches combined, was held without a block against PSU, just the second match this season she has failed to record a block (a 3-0 loss to Pacific in August was the other). Mathews currently ranks fourth at MSU in career blocks, with 567. With 15 more blocks, she will surpass both third-place Val Sterk (575) and second-place Dana Cooke (581); Angela Moreley (637) is MSU's all-time leader. Mathews is currently tied for 19th all-time in the Big Ten record book. Mathews owns a .344 career hitting percentage, which ranks 23rd among active players in Division I volleyball and second all-time at MSU. She ranks sixth among active players in blocks per set (1.30) and is second in total blocks (567).
Junior libero Kori Moster has twice in the last three weeks tied her career best with 29 kills, (against Minnesota, and Michigan), originally set against San Diego in the NCAA Tournament last December.
Moster leads the Big Ten in digs per set (4.61). She has 1,468 in her career, which moved her past Jill Krumm (1986-89) into second place all-time at MSU. She needs 17 more to move past Veronica Morales, who holds the school record with 1,484.
Moster is currently 23rd in the Big Ten all-time in digs, and is 60th among active NCAA players. 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. She has 392 in 2013, with eight regular-season matches remaining, plus post-season.
Freshman Allyssah Fitterer had her third career double-digit kill game vs. Penn State, recording 10 kills (one shy of her career best) and shared the team lead with two blocks. On the weekend, Fitterer hit .286 (16-6-35), adding a pair of service aces, five digs, and ranked second on the team with four blocks.
Chloe Reinig averages 2.92 kills per set and is hitting .267 on the season. She has 11+ kills in nine of her 12 career Big Ten matches. She was held below 10 against Iowa (7) and Minnesota (9), and Ohio State (7).
Kristen Kelsay averaged 26.5 assists in two games last week. She owns 2,777 career assists, good for sixth place at MSU all-time.
With Michigan State running a 6-2 offense, neither Kelsay (6.86 A/s) nor sophomore (and 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree) Halle Peterson (4.71) rank among the conference's top nine in assists. As a team, however, the Spartans rank sixth in assists per set, (12.59).
Taylor Galloway had 13 digs and four kills against Ohio State, and eight kills and four digs against the Nittany Lions last Saturday. She has averaged 10 digs per match over the last three Spartan contests.
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