|No. 14 Spartans at No. 18 Michigan, Iowa|
|Dates/Times||Wednesday Nov. 23 at Michgan, 8 pm ET | Saturday, Nov. 26 at Iowa, 7 pm ET|
|Location|| (W) Ann Arbor, Mich.; Cliff Keen Arena | (S) Iowa City, Iowa; Carver-Hawkeye Arena
|Tickets||at Michigan: sold out | At Iowa|
|Live Statistics||at Michigan | at Iowa|
|Live Video Streams||at Michigan | at Iowa|
|Radio Broadcast|| Spartan Sports Network John Kreger, pxp (W); Kevin Gehl, pxp (S)
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|Download Game Notes||Michigan State | Michigan | Iowa|
|Social Media||@MichStVB | MichiganStateVB @MichStVB|
No. 14 Michigan State continues a four-match road trip to conclude the regular season, and plays at No. 18 Michigan (Friday) and Iowa (Saturday).
Both matches will be streamed online on the BTN+ on BTN2Go platform. Both matches will also have a radio broadcast via SpartanSportsNetwork.com. John Kreger calls the action on Wednesday from Ann Arbor, and Kevin Gehl calls Saturday's broadcast in Iowa City.
This will be the second meeting with both of these teams. MSU and Michigan met just 11 days ago in East Lansing (Nov. 12), when the Spartans took a 3-1 decision in front of a school-record crowd of 6,838. Only one set was settled by more than two points, (25-23, 28-30, 25-23, 25-22), and MSU was paced by junior Autumn Bailey with 19 kills and 20 digs - both her season bests - while Alyssa Garvelink posted nine kills and a match-high eight blocks. Abby Cole led the Wolverines with 16 kills, while Claire Kieffer-Wright had 12 kills and led her team with seven blocks. The match featured 32 tie scores and 13 lead changes overall.
The State Pride Flag series between MSU and Michigan will be awarded tonight. The Spartans lead the all-time series by a 53-39-1 margin, but the teams have split the regular-season meetings in each of the last six seasons.
MSU has shared or won outright the State Pride Flag in each of the last six seasons. Michigan last won the State Pride flag outright in 2009. In 2014, the teams shared the Flag, as the teams were tied in all criteria (head-to-head, sets won, points won).
MSU's Big Ten season is bookended with meetings against Iowa, as the Spartans opened the 2016 Conference schedule with a 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-15, 25-18) of the Hawkeyes on Sept. 23 in East Lansing. Kasey Reuter and Lauren Brobst led the visitors with eight kills each. For MSU, Autumn Bailey made her Big Ten debut to the tune of 11 kills, hitting .455 and adding six digs Allyssah Fitterer had 10 kills and hit a match-best .643.
MSU owns 14 consecutive victories over the Hawkeyes, and 12 straight by a 3-0 score. It is MSU's longest active streak over one opponent in the Big Ten.
MSU and Iowa are the two teams most out-performing their predicted place in the Big Ten pre-season coaches poll. MSU was picked seventh and currently sits in a tie for fourth; Iowa was picked 12th and is tied for seventh with a 9-9 record.
MSU's 23-7 record through 30 matches is MSU's best since the 1995 squad - a team which advanced to the Final Four - was 28-2.
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 had its six-match winning streak snapped at Minnesota last Friday, its second-longest streak of the season. MSU previously won seven consecutive in September.
MSU fell to 5-5 in road matches this season, and overall is 9-5 in games away from East Lansing. 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 fell one spot to No. 14 in the American Volleyball Coaches (AVCA) National poll for the week of Nov. 21. Six Big Ten teams appear in this week's top 20 and three others are receiving votes, including the Conference holding down the top three spots (No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Minnesota, and No.3 Wisconsin). No. 14 MSU, No. 15 Penn State, and No. 18 Michigan are among the top 25, while Ohio State, Illinois and Purdue, are in the receiving votes category. In addition, No. 9 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. 14 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, 10 Big Ten teams and five of MSU's non-conference opponents are in the RPI top 64. Iowa (68) is right outside the top 64, and Michigan is 17th.
The Spartans rank eighth in the Big Ten (50th in Division I volleyball) with 2.44 blocks per set. MSU has 22 matches with seven team blocks or more, including 14 double-digit blocking efforts. MSU has posted double-digit blocks in six of the last seven matches (five straight), 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 on Nov. 12. 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 (2.02), and is fifth nationally with a total of 206 aces. MSU has six service aces or more in 19 of 30 matches.
MSU's 206 aces is eighth all-time in a single season, and its 2.02 per set would rank fifth - the program's highest per-set average since 2001.
MSU dropped back-to-back matches just twice this season: losses to No. 1 Nebraska (Sept. 24) and No. 16 Penn State (Sept. 30.), and again last weekend against No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 Wisconsin. 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 .186 hitting percentage, which ranks fourth among B1G schools. The Spartans limited seven of 12 non-conference opponents to a .115 hitting percentage or lower.
In MSU's seven losses on the season, 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. Most recently, No. 2 Minnesota hit .272, and no. 3 Wisconsin hit .220 - the lowest by a team defeating the Spartans this season. 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 the year, MSU is hitting .248, which would fall 12th all-time in the Spartan record book. MSU's hitting percentage is eighth in the Big Ten and 50th nationally.
MSU boasts a balanced attack, with five players averaging between 2.05 and 3.23 kills per set, and defensively has four averaging between 2.01 and 3.33 digs per frame.
The Green and White owns 17 three-set victories in 30 matches. Just eight times in 30 matches has MSU played more than three sets - the Spartans are 17-5 in three-set matches overall, 4-0 in four-setters, and are 2-2 in their five-set affairs. MSU ranks fourth in the Big Ten in overall winning percentage (.767).
In MSU's two five-set matches, the teams required extra points. On Sept. 24, No. 1 Nebraska won the fifth set 16-14; last Saturday at No. 2 Minnesota, the Gophers took an 18-16 victory in the final frame.
MSU is tied with Minnesota for third in the Big Ten in overall wins (23) - only No. 1 Nebraska (26) and No. 3 Wisconsin (24) have more. Dayton and Western Kentucky are tied for the national lead in victories (30).
The Spartans posted a season-best 66 digs vs. Michigan in the last meeting of the teams on Nov. 12, and then came back with 64 in last Saturday's five-setter at No. 2 Minnesota.
MSU established overall season bests in kills (67), attempts (175), and assists (67) against the Gophers on Nov. 18 as well.
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 12-6, 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 (12-6) and Nebraska (17-1) are the other two. Purdue had accomplished the feat over five seasons (2011-15), but is 6-12 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 sixth. This will be MSU's 22nd straight year of ranking in the top 25 of average attendance.
Once Big Ten play concludes for all 14 teams on Saturday evening, MSU awaits the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday night at 9 pm ET to learn its fate for the upcoming tournament. NCAA Tournament play begins Dec. 2-3 at 16 campus sites around the country.
Alyssa Garvelink contributed 13 kills against Minnesota last Friday and also added a match-high nine blocks, which included a season-best three solo stuffs. She contributed nine kills and five blocks (both second on the team) in MSU's loss at Wisconsin. Over the last five matches, the junior is averaging 2.05 blocks per set.
Garvelink ranks seventh in the Big Ten and 53rd nationally in hitting percentage (.359), while ranking second in the B1G blocks (1.43/s), which is 15th among national leaders. She currently averages 2.44 kills per set. In Big Ten play only, Garvelink is second in blocks (1.60/s) and fourth in hitting percentage (.349).
Garvelink's 14 blocks last week moved her into ninth place all time at MSU with 388 career total blocks, and 8th place with 346 block assists. Garvelink's current 1.17 career blocks per set average ranks sixth in the MSU career annals.
Garvelink's 1.43 blocks per set on the season (her career best) would fall sixth the single-season record book. Her .359 hitting percentage is also her career best. In her first two collegiate seasons, Garvelink hit .244 and averaged 2.15 kills and 1.05 blocks per frame.
Rachel Minarick tied her career best with 55 assists last Friday at No. 2 Minnesota, a mark she originally set in September of her freshman season at Oregon State. She added 11 digs in the match for her fifth double-double of the season. Four of her five double-doubles this season have come on the road.
Minarick has averaged 10.43 assists per set over the first 18 Big Ten matches, which puts her ninth in Conference games. She is averaging 10.34 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 3,253 career assists ranks sixth all-time in the MSU record book, one spot ahead of current assistant coach Kristen Kelsay (3,040, seventh). Minarick's career average of 9.83 assists per frame is 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.
Allyssah Fitterer is hitting an impressive .376 on the season, averaging 2.11 kills per frame and 0.67 blocks per set. She is second in the Big Ten (and 26th nationally) in hitting percentage, and in Big Ten games only, she is hitting .348 - good for fifth.
Fitterer has 998 career kills entering Wednesday's Michigan match, 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 30 matches she is 26th in the nation with a .376 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 .376 would rank sixth, and Garvelink's .359 would be seventh. 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).
Chloe Reinig had a team-best 14 kills against Minnesota, leading five Spartans who finished in double figures. She also added three blocks, and had five kills and four stuffs the next night against the Badgers.
Reinig is averaging 2.76 kills and 0.89 blocks per set, which is second on the team in both categories. She is also contributing 0.61 digs. She has led MSU in kills in four of the last six matches.
In Big Ten matches only, Reinig is averaging 0.98 blocks (13th, B1G) and 2.60 kills per set, both of which is second among MSU players.
Autumn Bailey leads MSU with 3.23 kills per set, which is ninth among Big Ten leaders. She led MSU with 10 terminations against Wisconsin last Saturday, and posted 11 kills and 15 digs for her team-best eighth double-double of the season. She has been MSU's top kill producer in 15 of 30 matches this season.
Bailey ranks second on the team with 2.65 digs per set, second on the team behind libero Abby Monson. She is also 10th in the Big Ten with 0.30 service aces per set, and averages 0.35 blocks per frame.
Bailey's 20 digs in the last meeting with Michigan (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.
In Big Ten matches only, Bailey averages 2.73 digs per frame, which is 13th in the Conference.
Michigan State has four athletes ranked among the top 15 in the Big Ten in service aces per set: Brooke Kranda (0.59, first), Holly Toliver (second, 0.39), Rachel Minarick (third, 0.36), and Bailey (10th, 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 is second in the Big Ten in service aces per set (0.39) and averages 1.38 kills and 0.25 blocks per frame. She averages 2.01 digs per set, tied with setter Rachel Minarick for third behind libero Abby Monson and Autumn Bailey. Her 2.01 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 101 of 102 sets, sharing the team lead with libero Abby Monson.
Monson has started all 30 matches at libero this season, and has improved her average to 3.33 digs per frame, good for 11th in the Big Ten. She had 19 digs in each of MSU's matches last week at Minnesota and Wisconsin. In Big Ten games only, her 3.44 digs per set ranks 12th.