MSU heads to No. 9 Nebraska, Iowa
Nov. 14, 2013
Michigan State continues a four-game road trip this weekend, and plays at Nebraska and Iowa on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
MSU's first match of the weekend will be Friday night at Nebraska. A capacity crowd is expected at the Devaney Center; MSU defeated the Huskers 3-1 at Jenison during the first half of the season. Nebraska sits at 12-2 in the conference (19-4 overall), one game behind league-leading Penn State. NU has won six straight since dropping a 3-1 decision to Purdue on Oct. 18.
Iowa, 10-16 on the year and tied with Indiana with a 1-13 Big Ten Conference mark, has dropped its last six matches since defeating the Hoosiers, 3-2, on Oct. 19. The Hawkeyes have won just one set in that six-match losing streak (to Northwestern on Nov. 1). but the other five matches have all been against ranked teams, including the Huskers, Penn State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
Michigan State has split each of its last two Big Ten weekends. Two weeks ago at home, it defeated Ohio State to sweep the season series, then fell to Penn State on Saturday (the teams each won on the road this season). A similar script played out last weekend, as MSU rallied from losing the first set to Northwestern in Evanston to win 3-1 and sweep the season, but then fell on Saturday to Illinois, (3-1), a team it swept 3-0 at Jenison back in early October.
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.
Since starting 6-0, MSU has gone 2-6 in Big Ten play over the last four weeks, including a four-game skid to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. MSU is tied for fourth in the current standings with Wisconsin and Illinois.
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 fell three spots in the AVCA Top 25 this week, from No. 13 to No. 16. 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 eight teams in the top-25 this week. Penn State remained at No. 2, while Nebraska is No. 9, and Minnesota is No. 11. Wisconsin is No. 14, followed by No. 16 MSU, No. 18 Purdue, and No. 19 Michigan. Illinois re-entered the poll this week at No. 25, and Northwestern is receiving votes.
According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, 10 Big Ten teams appear in the top 60, including six in the top 30, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 8 Nebraska, No. 15 Minnesota, No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 18 Illinois, No. 28 Michigan State, No. 29 Michigan, No. 32 Purdue, No. 41 Ohio State and No. 57 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 seven losses this season, five are to teams in the top 30 of the RPI. MSU's strength of schedule is 51st 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 2.59 blocks per set is fourth in the Big Ten and ranks 43rd nationally. MSU has turned in some of its highest blocking totals of the season over the last four weeks, with double-digit block totals in six of eight matches. MSU had 15 blocks vs. Michigan, its highest Big Ten total of the season - it's season high was 15.5 against Virginia Tech the opening weekend. MSU also recorded a season-high five solo blocks against Northwestern.
MSU averages 1.54 service aces per set, which leads the Big Ten and ranks 33rd nationally. The Spartans have 143 aces on the season, while limiting opponents to 85. MSU has just six aces over its last three games, its lowest total over a three-game stretch this season.
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .253, which is fourth in Conference and 38th nationally. MSU hit .357 against Northwestern last Friday, its best performance since hitting .493 against Iowa on Oct. 11.
MSU's kills per set (13.62) is fifth in the Big Ten. MSU turned in 63 kills in its win over Northwestern last Friday, its largest total in a Big Ten contest this season and second-highest total overall. MSU had 64 vs. Duquesne. MSU also had its second-highest number of attempts this season against Illinois (162), behind the 195 it racked up in the five-setter against Minnesota.
The Spartans had seven reception errors against Illinois, its second-highest total this season. MSU had nine against Minnesota on Oct. 20.
As MSU has hit the meat of its Big Ten schedule, its dig totals have been significantly increased. In the last eight matches, MSU has had six matches with 57+ digs.
MSU's home attendance, 37,804 fans over 13 home matches, currently ranks seventh nationally; its average of 2,908 per game ranks 10th. 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.
Moster has twice in the last four weeks tied her career best with 29 digs, (against Minnesota, and Michigan), originally set against San Diego in the NCAA Tournament last December. Her 29 against Michigan is the second-highest total in MSU history in a four-set match. She had 24 digs in each match last weekend.
Moster leads the Big Ten in digs per set (4.73), which is her career-best average.
Moster is currently 21st 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, and her current total of 440 is the seventh-highest single-season total in school history.
Freshman Allyssah Fitterer set an MSU record when she hit .786 (12-1-14) at Northwestern. The previous four-set record in the MSU record book was .708 (17-0-24) by Cheryl Histed against Eastern Michigan in November 1983. On Saturday at Illinois, she turned in two more career bests, getting 15 kills on a season-high 25 attempts, hitting .520 and adding five blocks.
Over the last four matches, Fitterer is hitting .459 (43-9-74) and has nine blocks.
Senior Lauren Wicinski has a total of 2,269 career kills. She needs 23 to surpass the total of MSU's all-time kills leader Jenna Wrobel (1995-98). Wicinski ranks fifth all-time in the Big Ten annals, and is 24th all-time in the NCAA record book.
Wicinski was MSU's offensive leader in both matches last weekend. Against Northwestern, she hit .326 on 17 kills, recording four blocks (three solo), three aces, and eight digs. It was her best hitting percentage since turning in a .579 vs. Iowa, and her solo blocks was a career best. Her three service aces was also the best since having four against Northwestern on Oct. 4. Against Illinois, she had 17 kills, two assists, and four blocks.
Wicinski is third in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.35), which is 23rd nationally; she ranks 12th nationally and is second in the Big Ten in points (5.15/set). She ranks second in the Big Ten in service aces (0.42 per set), which is 23rd nationally.
Wicinski leads the country's active players in several categories. She ranks first among active players in career kills (2,269), total attempts (5,247), and aces (262); she's third in kills/set (4.76), 14th in attempts per game (10.96), 13th in sets played (477) and tied for 16th in matches played (129).
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 17th nationally in hitting percentage (.416) and is second in the B1G in blocks per set (1.51), which ranks sixth nationally.
Mathews, who has 55 blocks in the last eight matches combined, has a season total of 139 blocks (11 solo, 128 assists). She needs eight blocks to have her senior season rank among the top 10 all-time; her sophomore (seventh) and junior (sixth) already rank among the top blocking seasons in school history. Her 128 block assists this season is the 10th highest total in school history.
Last weekend, Mathews moved into third place at MSU in career blocks, with 579. With three more blocks, she will surpass second-place Dana Cooke (581); Angela Moreley (637) is MSU's all-time leader. Mathews is currently 16th 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 (1.31) and is second in total blocks (579).
Chloe Reinig averages 2.90 kills per set and is hitting .249 on the season. She has 10+ kills in 11 of her 14 career Big Ten matches.
Kristen Kelsay averaged 6.12 assists/set in two games last week. She owns 2,826 career assists, good for sixth place at MSU all-time.
With Michigan State running a 6-2 offense, neither Kelsay (6.80 A/s) nor sophomore (and 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree) Halle Peterson (4.73) rank among the conference's top ten in assists. As a team, however, the Spartans rank fifth in assists per set, (12.68).
Peterson had a season-high 11 digs against Illinois, one shy of her career best.
Taylor Galloway has had 9+ digs in six of the last eight matches for MSU, averaging 3.12 digs/set in that span. She tied her season best with 14 digs against Northwestern.
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