Challenging Road Trip to No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Wisconsin On Tap for Volleyball
Spartans begin four-match road trip to conclude regular season
|No. 13 Spartans at No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Wisconsin|
|Dates/Times||Friday Nov. 18 at Minnesota, 8 pm ET | Saturday, Nov. 19 at Wisconsin, 8 pm ET|
|Location|| (F) Minneapolis, Minn.; Sports Pavilion | (S) Madison, Wis.; UW Field House
|Tickets||at Minnesota | At Wisconsin: Sold Out|
|Live Statistics||at Minnesota | at Wisconsin|
|Live Video Streams||at Minnesota | at Wisconsin|
|Radio Broadcast|| Spartan Sports Network Keaton Gillogly, pxp
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|Download Game Notes||Michigan State | Minnesota | Wisconsin|
|Weekly Press Conference||Watch|
|Social Media||@MichStVB | MichiganStateVB @MichStVB|
No. 13 Michigan State begins a four-match road trip to end the regular season with matches at No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Wisconsin this weekend.
Both matches will be streamed online on the BTN+ on BTN2Go platform. Both matches will also have a radio broadcast via SpartanSportsNetwork.com with Keaton Gillogly on the call.
This will be the second meeting of MSU and Minnesota this season. Michigan State defeated the then-No. 3 Gophers 3-2 (12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13). on Oct. 15 at Jenison Field House.
Alyssa Garvelink had a career-best 18 kills and added a season-high 10 blocks to record her first career double-double. Rachel Minarick finished with 54 helpers, adding six digs and three blocks, and Abby Monson posted a season-best 21 digs, adding a pair of assists. Sarah Wilhite had a double-double for Minnesota, with 20 kills and 19 digs.
For the second straight season, MSU and Wisconsin will meet just once during the Big Ten schedule, and the game will once again be played in Madison. The Badgers swept the Spartans 3-0 last season and have won four straight in the series.
MSU's 23-5 record through 28 matches is MSU's best since the 1995 squad - a team which advanced to the Final Four - was 27-1.
MSU has surpassed its win total from both 2014 and 2015 (19 victories). The most victories for the Spartans under Cathy George came in 2012, at 25-10. That team finished 11-9 in Big Ten play.
Twelve Big Ten victories is tied for the fourth-most Conference victories in a season in program history, and the most under Cathy George. Seven times in George's previous 11 seasons the team has won either 11 (2012, 2014) or 10 (2006, 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2015) Conference matches. This is the most Big Ten victories for the Spartans since 2001 (13). The program record is 19, set by the 1995 Big Ten Championship squad.
The Spartans secured their 20th victory of the season vs. Northwestern on Nov. 4. This is the earliest in the Cathy George era that a team reached 20 victories. The earliest a team reached 20 victories in the Big Ten era was in 1995, when MSU won it's 20th match at Ohio State on Oct. 20. In the pre-Big Ten era, MSU secured its 20th win on Oct. 11 vs. Eastern Kentucky - but for those teams, it was customary to play four or five matches in a weekend day.
This is the fifth season with 20+ victories under current head coach Cathy George, who is now in her 12th season. MSU had seven 20-victory seasons under Chuck Erbe, and six combined among the first three MSU coaches. This ties the most regular-season MSU victories under George, who led her 2012 team to a 23-9 regular-season mark and NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.
George currently has 595 career victories in her 30th season as a head coach. The Spartans have four regular-season matches remaining.
MSU has won six straight matches, its second-longest streak of the season. MSU previously won seven consecutive in September.
MSU owns a 5-3 record in road matches this season, and overall is 9-3 in games away from East Lansing. MSU has four road games remaining in Big Ten play (at Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa). MSU completed its regular season with a 14-2 record at Jenison Field House.
The Spartans' strength of schedule ranks 12th nationally, taking in all past and future opposition.
Michigan State moved up two spots to No. 13 in the American Volleyball Coaches (AVCA) National poll for the week of Nov. 14. Seven Big Ten teams appear in this week's top 24 and four others are receiving votes, including the Conference holding down the top three spots (No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Minnesota, and No.3 Wisconsin). No. 13 MSU, No. 15 Penn State, No. 18 Michigan and No. 24 Ohio State are among the top 25, and Purdue is in the receiving votes category. In addition, No. 5 Florida and No. 20 Western Kentucky were on MSU's non-conference schedule.
The RPI for Division I volleyball, which is one of the tools used for post-season NCAA Tournament selection and seeding, was initially released on Oct. 3. MSU sits at No. 12 this week in the RPI, and was as high as ninth. The Spartans are also one of seven programs from the Big Ten in the RPI top 25. In all, 11 Big Ten teams and five of MSU's non-conference opponents are in the RPI top 64.
The Spartans rank eighth in the Big Ten (58th in Division I volleyball) with 2.40 blocks per set. MSU has 20 matches with seven team blocks or more, including 12 double-digit blocking efforts. MSU has posted double-digit blocks in four of the last five matches, and established its season high of 15 in the Oct. 15 match vs. Minnesota.
The Spartans have allowed just four double-digit block performances - No. 3 Minnesota had 10, and No. 1 Nebraska had 13.5 - both in five-set matches - while Purdue had 11 in the four-set affair on Oct. 29 and No. 17 Michigan 16 last Saturday. The Spartans won three of those four matches - only Nebraska defeated the Spartans among those opponents.
MSU recorded 13 service aces in its match vs. Purdue on Oct. 29, bettering their previous high of 11 that it had vs. Morgan State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and DePaul. Thirteen aces is the fifth-highest total in a Division I match this season. The Spartans have a total of six matches with double-digit service aces.
MSU leads the Big Ten and is second nationally in service aces per set (2.05), and is seventh nationally with a total of 193 aces. MSU has six service aces or more in 18 of 28 matches.
MSU's 193 aces is 10th all-time in a single season, and its 2.08 per set would rank fifth - the program's highest per-set average since 2001.
MSU dropped its only back-to-back matches this season with losses to No. 1 Nebraska (Sept. 24) and No. 16 Penn State (Sept. 30.) MSU's longest winning streak was eight matches, its longest stretch since the 2013 season when the Spartans won 15 straight.
MSU has limited opponents to a .180 hitting percentage, which ranks third among B1G schools. The Spartans limited seven of 12 non-conference opponents to a .115 hitting percentage or lower.
In MSU's five losses overall on the season, all five opponents hit better than .300 - No. 7 Florida hit .341, No. 1 Nebraska hit .202, No. 16 Penn State .333, No. 24 Illinois .319, and No. 19 Ohio State .347. They are the only occasions this season that an MSU opponent hit .300 or better. The Spartans have held seven opponents under a .200 hitting percentage in eight of their Big Ten matches - Iowa, Rutgers (x2), Penn State, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue (x2), Northwestern, and Michigan.
On Oct. 15, Minnesota hit .268 in a five-set loss to the Spartans, and limited MSU to hitting .201. It was the first win this season for MSU when its opponent had a better hitting percentage. Most recently, Michigan (.158) hit better than the Spartans (.135) for a second occurrence. Neither is MSU's lowest hitting percentage in a win, however - MSU hit just .113 in a three-set sweep of Southern Illinois on Sept. 10, but the Salukis had 28 kills and 28 errors in the match (.000).
On the year, MSU is hitting .256, which would fall in a tie for tenth all-time in the Spartan record book. MSU's hitting percentage is eighth in the Big Ten and 41st nationally.
MSU boasts a balanced attack, with five players averaging between 2.10 and 3.29 kills per set, and defensively has four averaging between 1.99 and 3.20 digs per frame.
The Green and White owns 17 three-set victories in 28 matches. Just seven times in 28 matches has MSU played more than three sets - the Spartans are 17-4 in three-set matches overall, 4-0 in four-setters, and are 2-1 in their five-set affairs. MSU ranks fourth in the Big Ten in overall winning percentage (.821) and 17th among Division I schools.
MSU is second in the Big Ten in overall wins (23) - only No. 1 Nebraska (24) has more. Dayton (28-1) leads the nation in victories. Nebraska's 24 is tied for the third-highest win total.
The Spartans posted a season-best 66 digs vs. Michigan, 10 more than the previous season high (56, vs. Minnesota) as well as the most in a four-set match. Their 60 kills vs. the Wolverines was also a season best in a four-set affair, and the 171 MSU attempts was two off its season best of 173 vs. Nebraska in a five-setter.
Big Ten teams went a combined 122-36 (.772) in non-conference play, the best overall record in the country. The B1G was ahead of the Pac-12 (95-31, .753) and the SEC (108-49, .688).
Currently at 12-4, MSU is one of three programs in the Big Ten to finish .500 or better in Big Ten play in each of the last six (2011-16) seasons. Penn State (11-6) and Nebraska (16-1) are the other two. Purdue had accomplished the feat over five seasons (2011-15), but is 6-11 in Conference play this season.
The Spartans had 16 regular-season games at Jenison Field House in 2016, where the Spartans are routinely a top-10 ranked attendance draw. MSU capped its home season with a school-record 6,838 fans last Saturday vs. Michigan, and averaged 3,051 fans per match at home (sixth nationally) and its total attendance of 48,820 ranks fourth. This will be MSU's 22nd straight year of ranking in the top 25 of average attendance.
MSU gets a rematch with No. 17 Michigan next Wednesday in Ann Arbor. The regular season concludes with a trip to Iowa City for a second meeting with Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 26.
On Monday, the Spartans had two players earn weekly Big Ten honors. Rachel Minarick was the Big Ten Setter of the Week, while Alyssa Garvelink shared the Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second straight week.
Garvelink averaged 2.57 blocks per set last week, including a second-straight 10-block performance last Wednesday vs. Purdue (she had 10 vs. Illinois the previous Saturday). Her two solo blocks vs. the Boilermakers tied her season best. Against the Wolverines last Saturday, she posted nine kills and hit .200 (MSU's team high) while compiling eight more blocks, including her eighth of the night to seal the victory.
Garvelink ranks seventh in the Big Ten and 51st nationally in hitting percentage (.360), while ranking fourth in the B1G blocks (1.41/s), which is 20th among national leaders. She currently averages 2.43 kills per set. In Big Ten play only, Garvelink is second in blocks (1.58 per set, behind Illinois middle Ali Bastianelli's 1.67) and eighth in hitting percentage (.348).
Garvelink's 18 blocks last week moved her into 10th place all time at MSU with 374 career total blocks, and 8th place with 335 block assists.
Garvelink's current 1.15 career blocks per set average ranks seventh in the MSU career annals. Her 1.41 blocks per set on the season would fall seventh the single-season record book.
Garvelink's .377 hitting percentage and 1.31 blocks per set are her career bests. In her first two collegiate seasons, Garvelink hit .244 and averaged 2.15 kills and 1.05 blocks per frame.
Minarick has averaged 10.49 assists per set over the first 16 Big Ten matches, which puts her eighth in Conference games. She is averaging 10.37 assists per set overall, which also ranks eighth.
Minarick is the seventh setter in school history to surpass 3,000 career assists. Her current total of 3,173 career assists ranks sixth all-time in the MSU record book, moving her ahead of current assistant coach Kristen Kelsay (3,040, seventh). Minarick's career average of 9.83 assists per frame is currently eighth in the Spartan record book.
Minarick is one of six athletes to be named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District team. Minarick's honor is the 16th Academic All-District honor for the Spartan volleyball program, and she is just the fifth in program history to be named to the First Team. She joins Dana Cooke (1995, 1996), Val Sterk (1996), Michelle Kopka (2003) and current assistant coach Kristen Kelsay (2013) to take First Team honors and advance to the national ballot. Cooke, Sterk, Jenilee Rathje (2011) and Kelsay all earned spots on the Academic All-America team. Minarick, a 2014 Honorable Mention AVCA All-America selection and 2015 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, holds a 3.95 cumulative grade point average as a kinesiology major. The Academic All-America team is scheduled for release on Dec. 5.
Minarick posted her fourth double-double of the season and 21st of her career at Purdue (Oct. 29) with 38 assists and 12 digs. Three of her four double-doubles this season have come on the road.
Chloe Reinig posted a team-leading 12 kills and had five blocks vs. Purdue last Wednesday, and added eight kills and four blocks last Saturday vs. the Wolverines.
Reinig is averaging 2.79 kills and 0.90 blocks per set, which is second on the team in both categories. She is also contributing 0.63 digs. She has led MSU in kills in three of the last five matches.
In Big Ten matches only, Reinig is averaging 1.00 blocks (13th, B1G) and 2.64 kills per set, both which is second among MSU players.
Allyssah Fitterer is hitting an impressive .392 on the season, averaging 2.11 kills per frame and 0.65 blocks per set. She is second in the Big Ten (and 22nd nationally) in hitting percentage, and in Big Ten games only, she is hitting .365 - good for third.
Fitterer has 981 career kills with six regular-season matches left to play, leaving her within striking distance of becoming the 22nd Spartan to accomplish 1,000 in her career. Chloe Reinig accomplished the feat earlier this season against Morgan State, and was the first Spartan to 1,000 kills since Lauren Wicinski in 2013.
Fitterer's junior season saw her hit a career-best .301, but through the first 28 matches of the season, she is 22nd in the nation with a .392 hitting percentage. Fitterer's career hitting percentage was .277 entering her final collegiate campaign.
Both Fitterer and Garvelink have hitting percentages that would rank among MSU's top single-season performances. Fitterer's .392 would rank fifth, and Garvelink's .377 would be eighth. Only one time in school history has a pair of teammates had top-10 single-season hitting performances in the same season - in 2001, both Erin Hartley and Angela Morely hit .337, which is tied for 10th in a single season in the MSU annals. MSU has not had a .400 hitter in a season since 2000 (Jessica Sanborn, .417).
Autumn Bailey leads MSU with 3.24 kills per set, which is ninth among Big Ten leaders. She is hitting .221, and owns a team-best seven double-doubles, her most recent a 19-kill, 20-dig performance vs. Michigan (Nov. 12). She has been MSU's top kill producer in 14 of 28 matches this season.
Bailey ranks second on the team with 2.63 digs per set, which is 15th in the Big Ten and second on the team behind libero Abby Monson. She is also eighth in the Big Ten with 0.31 service aces per set, and averages 0.37 blocks per frame.
Bailey's 20 digs vs. the Wolverines (Nov. 12) was the second-highest total for the Spartans this season, behind the 21 posted by Monson in the first meeting with Minnesota (Oct. 15). Her 19 kills and 49 swings vs. Michigan are also a Spartan season highs in both categories.
Michigan State has three athletes ranked among the top 15 in the Big Ten in service aces per set: Kranda (0.63, first), Rachel Minarick (second, 0.40), and Holly Toliver (eighth, 0.30); Kranda is fourth nationally.
Brooke Kranda broke a 30-year old school record with nine service aces against Purdue on Oct. 29, a new MSU best in a four-set match. It was the second-most service aces in a Big Ten match all-time, and the first time since 1992 (and the fourth time overall) that a player recorded nine aces in a B1G contest. It is also the second-most service aces in a match this season in Division I volleyball.
The last player to post nine aces in a Big Ten match was Indiana's Jill Kerkhoff, who accomplished the feat vs. MSU on Nov. 12, 1992. The other two instances were both by Spartan players, and in the same match: On Oct. 7, 1983 against Minnesota, Michelle Kasper had nine aces, and Gina Conroy set the Big Ten and MSU record with 10 in a Conference match.
Holly Toliver owns three double-doubles this season. She is coming off an 11-dig performance with an ace and five kills (5-0-7, .714) vs. Michigan last Saturday.
Toliver is eighth in the Big Ten in service aces per set (0.30) and averages 1.44 kills and 0.27 blocks per frame. She averages 2.08 digs per set, third behind libero Abby Monson and Autumn Bailey. Her 2.08 digs per set is nearly double her career best coming into the season.
Toliver, who dealt with several injuries in her first two seasons that limited her court time, is now one of two players to appear in 93 of 94 sets, sharing the team lead with libero Abby Monson.
Abby Monson has started all 28 matches at libero this season, and is averaging 3.10 digs per frame, good for 12th in the Big Ten. She had 17 digs in the win over Michigan - one of three Spartan players in double-digits - and had 14 midweek vs. Purdue. In Big Ten games only, her 3.25 digs per set ranks 12th.