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Volleyball Closes Regular Season With Ranked Michigan and Penn State

Senior Jenilee Rathje

Nov. 22, 2011

Michigan State (21-9, 10-8 Big Ten) vs. No. 22 Michigan (19-11, 7-11 Big Ten)
 Date Wednesday, Nov. 23 - 7 p.m. ET
 Location Ann Arbor, Mich. | Cliff Keen Arena
 Game Notes Michigan State | Michigan
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Social Media @MichStVB | Facebook
Michigan State (21-9, 10-8 Big Ten) vs. No. 9 Penn State (21-7, 14-4 Big Ten)
 Date Saturday, Nov. 26 - 6:30 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Jenison Field House
 Game Notes Michigan State | Penn State
 Live Stats Gametracker
 Live Audio (Free)
 Social Media @MichStVB | Facebook

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team (21-9, 10-8 Big Ten) closes out the 2011 regular season against a pair of ranked opponents in No. 22 Michigan (19-11, 7-11 Big Ten) and No. 9 Penn State (21-7, 14-4). The Spartans first travel to Ann Arbor on Wednesday, Nov. 23 for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Wolverines in Cliff Keen Arena. Three nights later, the Green and White closes out the regular slate with "Senior Night" on Saturday, Nov. 26 against the Nittany Lions at 6:30 p.m. Saturday's contest will have free audio streamed live at

Scouting Michigan State
Leading the squad on the outside are seniors Kyndra Abron and Jenilee Rathje. To date, Rathje has recorded 4.29 kills per set, while Abron currently boasts 3.43 kills a set. At the net, Alexis Mathews leads the Green and White in blocks with 1.28 per set. In the backcourt, Kori Moster anchors the defense with 3.90 digs per set, starting the last 23 matches as MSU's libero.

Head coach Cathy George is in her seventh season at the helm of the Spartans, compiling a record of 118-101 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 Michigan
Michigan currently boasts a record of 19-11 and 7-11 in the conference, ranking 22nd in the latest AVCA national poll. The Wolverines are led up at the net by Lexi Erwin. Erwin currently has 3.22 kills per set on the year. Defensively, Sloane Donhoff and Jennifer Cross are the top defenders in the back row and at the net, respectively. Donhoff has 4.57 digs per set while Cross has 0.95 blocks per set.

Series History: MSU leads in the all-time series, 47-34-1.
Last Meeting: MSU topped Michigan earlier this season in hard-fought four-set match in East Lansing, 3-1.
Coach: The Wolverines are coached by Mark Rosen, who is in his 13th season with Michigan and posts an all-time record of 467-200, going 258-163 with the school.

Scouting Penn State
Penn State currently sits at 21-7 overall and 14-4 in the Big Ten, and ranks ninth in the latest AVCA poll. Leading the Nittany Lions offensively is Deja McClendon. After 13 weekends of action, McClendon has tallied 3.65 kills per set. Defensively, Ali Longo has recorded 3.23 digs a set while Katie Slay leads the team at the net with 1.48 blocks per set.

Series History: MSU trails in the all-time series, 35-6.
Last Meeting: The Spartans fell to Penn State, 3-0 in University Park, before dropping a 3-1 decision at home.
Coach: The Nittany Lions are coached by Russ Rose, who is in his 33rd season with Penn State and posts an all-time record of 1,054-171.

Recapping Last Weekend
With one of the team's largest crowds of the year behind it, MSU stunned No. 7 Illinois, 3-1 inside Jenison Field House on Friday, Nov. 18. The senior class of Kyndra Abron, Natalie Emro, Jenilee Rathje, Carli Weiler and Becca Zlabis led the Spartans over the Fighting Illini.

The Spartans pulled out a gritty five-set win over Northwestern, 3-2 on Saturday, Nov. 19. The win gave the Green and White the first weekend sweep of the conference season this year. After dropping the first two sets, the Spartans rattled off the next three behind Abron's career-high 22 kills.

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 69-percent of the team's offense, with 455 kills coming from Rathje and 367 kills coming for 2009 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Kyndra Abron. Defensively, the senior class makes up for 51-percent of the team's total dig tally, lead by Weiler's 232 digs. At the net, the senior class comprises 87-percent of the team's block total. Abron paces the group with the second-most on the team, 85 blocks.

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. Moster, again, earned defensive player of the week honors this past weekend after the Spartans upset No. 7 Illinois, and defeated Northwestern in five sets.

Lucky No. 20
MSU recorded its 20th win of the regular season with a 3-1 victory over No. 7 Illinois on Friday, Nov. 18. The win marked the most regular-season victories for the Spartans under head coach Cathy George, and the most since 2001, when the Green and White tallied 21 wins prior to the post-season. This is also the most regular-season wins for Coach George since 2000, when Western Michigan recorded 22 regular-season wins. Historically, whenever the Spartans have reached the 20-win mark, they received a bid to the NCAA Tournament (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001).

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 13 weekends of action with 30,120 fans. In MSU's 15 home contests to date, it has averaged 2,008 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 4.74 digs per set and ranks first overall in total digs with 327.

Moster has already broken two MSU freshman records - total digs and digs per set - and is tied for 10th in service aces. The Cincinnati, Ohio native is tops in digs with 413 total, and in digs per set with 3.90. Moster is also 10th in service aces with 29.

State Pride Series
Michigan State and Michigan share a long history of rivalries, both in academics and athletics. Beginning in 1990, the two state of Michigan Big Ten Conference institutions began a "State Pride" season series to celebrate the in-state rivalry. Each University hosts a "State Pride Night" when the teams meet during the regular season. A state of Michigan flag bearing the motto "Tuebor" or "I will defend", serves as a symbol of the volleyball rivalry with the winner of the season's face-to-face matches retaining possession of the flag for a year. The flag flew over the State Capitol on Sept. 18. 1990. In addition to the State flag, each school's winning year is listed on its half of a special Michigan State-Michigan banner.

• The school that wins both matches will be declared the "State Pride" winner.
• If one team does not win both matches, the school that wins the greatest number of games will be declared the "State Pride" winner.
• If both teams have won the same number of games, the school with the most total points is the "State Pride" winner.

Michigan State
1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2010

1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009

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
3rd Gina Conroy, 1981-84 140
4th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 138

Total Sets Played
1st Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 481

1st Jenna Wrobel, 1995-98 2,292
7th Erin Hartley, 1998-2001 1,508
8th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 1,454

1st Veronica Morales, 1994-97 5,353
8th Ashley Schatzle, 2005-07 3,501
9th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 3,377

Block Assists
1st Jenna Wrobel, 1995-98 552
7th Dawn Andrews, 1987-90 329
8th Jenilee Rathje, 2007-11 328



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