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Volleyball Concludes Road Trip at Minnesota and Wisconsin

Senior Becca Zlabis

Nov. 8, 2011

Michigan State (18-8, 7-7 Big Ten) vs. No. 16 Minnesota (14-9, 7-7 Big Ten)
 Date Wednesday, Nov. 9 - 8 p.m. ET
 Location Minneapolis, Minn | Sports Pavilion
 Game Notes Michigan State | Minnesota
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Television Big Ten Network
Mike Wolf (play-by-play) and Megan Bower (color analyst)
 Social Media @MichStVB | Facebook
Michigan State (18-8, 7-7 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin (14-12, 6-8 Big Ten)
 Date Saturday, Nov. 12 - 8 p.m. ET
 Location Madison, Wis. | Wisconsin Field House
 Game Notes Michigan State | Wisconsin
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Live Video (Pay)
 Social Media @MichStVB | Facebook

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (18-8, 7-7 Big Ten) concludes its road trip this weekend against No. 16 Minnesota (14-9, 7-7 Big Ten) and Wisconsin (14-12, 6-8 Big Ten). The week begins for the Spartans on Wednesday, Nov. 9 with an 8 p.m. contest against the Gophers, before concluding the action on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. against the Badgers. Wednesday's contest will be aired live on the Big Ten Network with Mike Wolf (play-by-play) and Megan Bower (color analyst) on the call. Saturday's match will have live video streamed on the Big Ten Digital Network at

Scouting Michigan State
Leading the squad on the outside are seniors Kyndra Abron and Jenilee Rathje. To date, Rathje has recorded 4.58 kills per set, while Abron currently boasts 3.37 kills a set. At the net, Alexis Mathews leads the Green and White in blocks with 1.22 per set. In the backcourt, Kori Moster anchors the defense with 3.73 digs per set, starting the last 19 matches as MSU's libero.

Head coach Cathy George is in her seventh season at the helm of the Spartans, compiling a record of 117-100 at MSU. In her 25 seasons as a head coach, George has appeared in eight NCAA tournaments, including being the first woman to coach in the NCAA Division I Final Four in 1989. During her time at MSU, the Spartans have appeared in the tournament in three of her six seasons, including an NCAA Regional Semi-final appearance in 2007.

Scouting Minnesota
Minnesota currently boasts a record of 14-9 and 7-7 in the conference, ranking 16th in the latest AVCA national poll. The Gophers are led up at the net by Alex Wittman. Wittman currently has 4.63 kills per set on the year. Defensively, Jessica Granquist and Ariana Filho are the top defenders in the back row and at the net, respectively. Granquist has 4.52 digs per set while Filho has 0.92 blocks per set.

Series History: The Spartans trail in the all-time series, 46-16.
Last Meeting: MSU lost to Minnesota earlier this season by a score of 3-0 in East Lansing.
Coach: Laura Bush is acting as interim head coach for UM while Hugh McCutcheon completes his appointment with U.S.A. Volleyball through the 2012 Olympics in London. Bush is currently 14-9 with Minnesota and 114-176 in her career.

Scouting Wisconsin
Wisconsin currently sits at 14-12 overall and 6-8 in the Big Ten. Leading the Badgers offensively is Ellen Chapman. After 11 weekends of action, Chapman has tallied 2.56 kills per set. Defensively, Annemarie Hickey has recorded 4.79 digs a set while Kristy Bourquin leads the team at the net with 1.10 blocks per set.

Series History: MSU trails in the all-time series, 44-23.
Last Meeting: The Spartans topped to the Badgers, 3-1, at home earlier this season.
Coach: The Badgers are coached by Pete Waite, who is in his 13th season with Wisconsin and posts an all-time record of 552-229, going 286-127 with the school.

Recapping Last Weekend
The Green and White swept past Iowa, 3-0, on Friday, Nov. 4 in Iowa City, Iowa, to open the first of four straight road contests. For MSU, seniors Jenilee Rathje and Kyndra Abron, and sophomore Alexis Mathews each tallied double-digit kill numbers against the Hawkeyes.

The Spartans dropped a tough 3-0 match to No. 2 Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, Nov. 4. Rathje led the Green and White on the night with her 14th straight double-digit kill night with 11.

It Starts At The Top
MSU has received plenty of support this season offensively from its senior class. A group which entered Michigan State as the seventh-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2008, the seniors added Jenilee Rathje to their class following her redshirt season. Currently this season, the seniors make-up 68-percent of the team's offense, with 403 kills coming from Rathje and 307 kills coming for 2009 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Kyndra Abron. Defensively, the senior class makes up for 50-percent of the team's total dig tally, lead by Weiler's 193 digs, each. At the net, the senior class comprises 86-percent of the team's block total. Abron paces the group with the second-most on the team, 72 blocks.

Sweeping Success
The Spartans have found success in 3-0 matches this season, posting an 12-3 record. Of MSU's 18 wins thus far this year, 12 of which of been 3-0 sweeps for the Green and White. MSU started off the season by winning the first six matches of the season in straight sets, the first time since 1975 the Spartans have topped their first six opponents without dropping a set.

Conference Laurels
Freshman Kori Moster was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Sept. 26. The award marked the first in Moster's career. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native concluded the first half of conference play with a pair of 20+ digs performances to earn both Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week laurels on Oct. 24.

Come One, Come All
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011 Michigan State volleyball season. Reserved seat season tickets are priced at $56 for adults and $28 for youth and seniors, while general admission season tickets are priced at $42 for adults and $28 for youth and seniors. With the purchase of season volleyball tickets fans also earn three Spartan Points for each consecutive year they maintain Spartan volleyball tickets. Spartan Points help in determining seat adjustments for both men's basketball and football. With the next seat adjustment occurring in 2014, fans have the opportunity to earn up to nine (9) Spartan Points to their account via the purchase of volleyball season tickets for the next four seasons.

Preseason Recognition
Prior to the 2011 season, several Spartans were recognized for their work both on and off the court. Senior Jenilee Rathje was tabbed as one of 17-members of the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Rathje found herself on the conference coaches' radars after earning first-team All-Big Ten and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention honors her sophomore campaign.

As a team, the Spartans were selected to finish sixth in the conference, as selected by the conference coaches in August.

Rathje was also recognized by the conference in July for her dedication to her class work. Rathje was one of 534 student-athletes to receive Big Ten Scholar Athlete distinction. In order to be recognized, each student-athlete must achieve at least a 3.7 or higher for the corresponding academic year.

Playing With CLASS
Senior Jenilee Rathje was named as one of 30 candidates to be named for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Annually, the Spartans have found themselves as one of the national leaders in attendance among NCAA Division I teams. Michigan State has been ranked in the top-25 in average attendance in 15 of the last 16 seasons. MSU posted a program best sixth during the 1996 campaign. To date in the 2011 season, the Green and White finds themselves ranked 18th after 11 weekends of action with 23,841 fans. In MSU's 13 home contests to date, it has averaged 1,834 fans.

Fab Freshman
Freshman Kori Moster has taken the conference by storm since being named the Spartans' starting libero prior to the Green and White's match against Canisius on Sept. 10. Since then, she has moved into first among Big Ten leaders for conference-only matches with 4.72 digs per set and ranks first overall in total digs with 250.

Tournament Eligible
With MSU's 3-1 win over Indiana on Wednesday, Oct. 26, it is now eligible for the NCAA tournament for the fourth time under head coach Cathy George. The win also marked the quickest the Spartans have reached 17 wins since 1998, when it took 21 matches. The 23 matches needed to become eligible is the quickest since 2003, when the Green and White also needed 23 wins.

Climbing the Ladder
Senior Jenilee Rathje is closing in on several records in the MSU record books.

Total Matches Played
1st Michelle Kasper, 1981-84 141
Cheryl Histed, 1981-84 141
t-4th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 134

Total Sets Played
1st Veronica Morales, 1994-97 477
2nd Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 465

1st Jenna Wrobel, 1995-98 2,292
9th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 1,403

1st Veronica Morales, 1994-97 5,353
9th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 3,214

Block Assists
1st Jenna Wrobel, 1995-98 552
9th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 319



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