Wisconsin, Minnesota Visit MSU for Final Home Weekend
Michigan State returns home for a weekend set with No. 15 Wisconsin and No. 11 Minnesota. The Spartans have spent the last two weekends on the road.
MSU's four seniors - setter Kristen Kelsay, middle blockers Kelsey Kuipers and Alexis Mathews, and outside hitter Lauren Wicinski - will be honored in a post-game ceremony after Saturday's contest against Minnesota.
Wisconsin has identical records to MSU - the Badgers are 20-8 overall and 9-7 in the B1G - as the two sit tied for fifth in the Big Ten standings. The Badgers have lost three of their last five matches, most recently splitting with Penn State and Ohio State. Wisconsin celebrated its senior day last Sunday, and will play its final four matches on the road. The Badgers defeated MSU 3-1 in the first meeting of the teams back in October.
Minnesota, ranked No. 11 this week, has split each of its last two weekends, beating Iowa and Ohio State and losing to Nebraska and Penn State. Minnesota has gone 5-3 since its five-set victory over the Spartans on Oct. 17 in Minneapolis.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
Michigan State has split each of its Big Ten weekends in the second half of the round robin. MSU has registered season sweeps of Ohio State, Northwestern, and Iowa, and split with Penn State, Illinois, and Nebraska.
Last weekend, MSU was swept at Nebraska before turning the tables and sweeping Iowa. The Nebraska loss was MSU's first on a Friday night this season. 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 3-7 in Big Ten play over the last five weeks, including a four-game skid to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. MSU is tied for fifth in the current standings with the Badgers.
Six of MSU's final eight regular-season games will be played away from Jenison Field House. This weekend is the lone home games for MSU in that stretch, and the Spartans wrap the regular season with road games at Michigan and Purdue next week.
Michigan State fell one spot in the AVCA Top 25 this week, from No. 16 to No. 17. 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. 6, and Minnesota is No. 11. Wisconsin is No. 15, followed by No. 17 MSU, No. 18 Michigan, No. 20 Illinois, and No. 25 Purdue. Northwestern is receiving votes.
According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, ten Big Ten teams appear in the top 50, including seven in the top 30, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 6 Nebraska, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 17 Illinois, No. 26 Michigan State, No. 27 Michigan, No. 41 Purdue, No. 43 Ohio State and No. 50 Northwestern.
MSU is now 4-5 against ranked teams this season. The Spartans have are 2-2 when ranked lower than their opponent (against Oregon, Penn State, and Nebraska), and are 2-3 when ranked higher.
Of MSU's eight losses this season, six are to teams in the top 30 of the RPI. MSU's strength of schedule is 48th in the country.
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 2.55 blocks per set is fourth in the Big Ten and ranks 51st nationally. MSU has turned in some of its highest blocking totals of the season over the last five weeks, with double-digit block totals in six of 10 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 (11/8).
MSU averages 1.51 service aces per set, which continues to lead the Big Ten and ranks 35th nationally. The Spartans have 150 aces on the season, while limiting opponents to 89. MSU has just 13 aces over its last five games, its lowest total over a five-game stretch this season.
As a team, the Spartans are hitting .254, which is fourth in Conference and 40th nationally. MSU hit .357 against Northwestern on Nov. 8, its best performance since hitting .493 against Iowa on Oct. 11. MSU hit .225 against Nebraska last Friday, the first time this season MSU lost a match when hitting .200 or better.
MSU's kills per set (13.73) is third in the Big Ten. MSU turned in 63 kills in its win over Northwestern on Nov. 8, 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 on Nov. 9, its second-highest total this season. Last weekend at Nebraska and Iowa, the Spartans had just four reception errors in the two matches combined.
As MSU has hit the meat of its Big Ten schedule, its dig totals have been significantly increased. In the last 11 matches, MSU has had nine matches with 45+ digs. MSU had just five matches with 45+ digs in its pre-conference schedule of 12 matches.
MSU's home attendance, 37,804 fans over 13 home matches, currently ranks ninth 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.
Senior Lauren Wicinski was the kills leader in the matches at both Nebraska and Iowa. Wicinski led all players in the Big Ten last week in kills (5.83 per set) and points (6/42 per set), while recording three aces (third in the B1G) and adding 12 digs.
Wicinski pushed her career kills total to 2,304, moving her past MSU all-time leader Jenna Wrobel; Wicinski's total is third all-time in the Big Ten and moved her up to a tie for 15th all-time in the NCAA record book. She needs 172 kills to get into the top 10 all-time in the sport.
Wicinski is third in the Big Ten in kills/set (4.44), which is 18th nationally; she ranks ninth nationally and leads in the Big Ten in points (5.22/set). She ranks second in the Big Ten in service aces (0.43 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 (2,304), which is 400 more than Megan Devine of East Tennessee State (1,925). She is also first in total attempts (5,331), and aces (265); she's second in kills/set (4.77), 14th in attempts per game (11.04), 13th in sets played (483) and tied for 14th in matches played (131).
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.
Junior libero Kori Moster became MSU's all-time digs leader on Nov. 8 vs. Northwestern. She surpassed Veronica Morales, who held the school record since 1997 (1,484). Moster currently boasts 1,542 career digs, which ranks 19th all-time in the Big Ten. She has at least four matches remaining in her junior season.
Moster leads the Big Ten in digs per set (4.71), which is her career-best average. That is tied for second all-time in a single-season at MSU, behind Nicole Colaluca's 5.41 digs per set in 2005. Colaluca averaged 4.71 in 2006.
Moster has twice this season 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 ranks 60th among active NCAA players in career digs. 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 466 is the seventh-highest single-season total in school history.
Alexis Mathews leads the Big Ten and is 17th nationally in hitting percentage (.415). That total places her third all-time in a single season in the Spartan annals, where her junior-year hitting percentage (.388) ranks fifth.
Mathews is second in the B1G in blocks per set (1.51), which ranks sixth nationally and ranks sixth all-time in the single-season MSU record book. She has a season total of 143 blocks (11 solo, 132 assists). She needs four 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 132 block assists this season is the ninth highest total in school history.
Last weekend, Mathews moved into second place at MSU in career blocks, with 583. Angela Moreley (637) is MSU's all-time leader. Mathews is currently 14th all-time in the Big Ten record book. Mathews has 522 career block assists, just 30 shy of Moreley's school record of 552.
Mathews owns a .344 career hitting percentage, which ranks 25th 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 third in total blocks (583).
Freshman Allyssah Fitterer set an MSU record when she hit .786 (12-1-14) at Northwestern on Nov. 8. 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 Nov. 9 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 .420 (55-13-100) and has 11 blocks.
Chloe Reinig averages 2.77 kills per set and is hitting .233 on the season. She has 10+ kills in 11 of her 16 career Big Ten matches.
Kristen Kelsay owns 2,867 career assists, good for sixth place at MSU all-time.
With Michigan State running a 6-2 offense, Kristen Kelsay (6.80 A/s) ranks 10th in the Big Ten in assists/set, while sophomore (and 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree) Halle Peterson (4.71) does not appear among conference leaders. As a team, however, the Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in assists per set, (12.83).
Taylor Galloway has had 9+ digs in seven of the last 10 matches for MSU, averaging 2.6 digs/set in that span. She tied her season best with 14 digs against Northwestern (Nov. 8).
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