Nov. 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State volleyball makes its 15th NCAA Tournament appearance and the third in the last four seasons when it travels to Los Angeles, Calif., to take on San Diego in the first round. The contest is slated for Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET inside Pauley Pavilion. The winner will face either seventh-seeded UCLA or LIU Brooklyn on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 10 p.m. ET. Both matches will be streamed live on Pac-12.com.
A Look at the Spartans
Michigan State is led on the outside by junior Lauren Wicinski; she leads the team and the conference in points (5.31), and service aces (0.66) and is second in the Big Ten in kills per set (4.39). Alexis Mathews, a native of Detroit, Mich., is the anchor in the middle for the Spartans and she is fifth in the conference with 1.20 blocks per set and also has a .385 hitting percentage, also fifth-best in the Big Ten. Sophomore libero Kori Moster ranks second in the Big Ten with 4.53 digs per set, and also averages 0.26 service aces per set. At setter, Kristen Kelsay leads the Spartans with 7.03 assists per set and is ninth in the conference with 0.28 service aces per set. Freshman Halle Peterson also chips in with 4.68 assists per set.
Michigan State head coach Cathy George is in her eighth season at the helm of the Spartans and has a career record of 509-337. The Spartans made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
Recapping Last Weekend
The Spartans finished the home season with a loss against Michigan, but retained the State Pride Flag on total points. A record-setting crowd of 5,059 fans took in the match at Jenison Field House against Michigan and it was the third-largest crowd in program history. MSU then traveled to Penn State and fell, 3-0, in the regular season finale.
Scouting San Diego
The Toreros finished the regular season 21-6 and tied for first in the West Coast Conference with BYU. San Diego is led by junior Katie Hoekman and her 2.69 kills per set. She was named All-WCC and also hit .388 percent on the season and had 117 blocks. Rachel Alvey averages 9.51 assists per set and Alaysia Brown chips in with 2.56 kills per set.
Series History: MSU and USD have never met.
Coach: Jennifer Petrie is in her 12th season at San Diego and is making her 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament with the Toreros.
Spartans Out West
Michigan State is making its 15th NCAA Tournament appearance and the third in the last four seasons. The Spartans made it to the second round last season after defeating Arizona, before falling to top-seeded Texas. MSU's best finish in the tournament was in 1995 when they made it to the national semifinals.
Free Live Coverage of the Tournament
All weekend matches will be streamed live and at no cost for fans wishing to watch the Spartans in California. Michigan State against San Diego will be streamed at www.pac-12.com/live/uclabruins.
Wicinski in the Record Book
Lauren Wicinski sits alone atop the single season record book for aces in a season. Wicinski has recorded 77 aces on the season and broke the previous record of 75 at home against Michigan. Previous record holder Jane Zenner had held the mark since 1983.
All-Big Ten Accolades
Michigan State volleyball had four individuals recognized on Tuesday, Nov. 27 as the Big Ten Conference released the postseason honors and awards for the 2012 season. Kori Moster earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was also named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski was named to the 16-member All-Big Ten team and Halle Peterson was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. Kristen Kelsay, a co-captain, was MSU's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship award.
- Moster, a co-captain, led the team in digs this season with 530 and was second in the conference with a mark of 4.53 per set. She also moved into second place all-time for digs in a single season at Michigan State.
- Wicinski led the team in kills, aces and points this season and was seventh in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten with 5.31 points per set. She is also second in the Big Ten and 21st in the NCAA with 4.39 kills per set and ranked third in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten in aces with 0.66.
- Peterson has played in 113 sets this season and proved a vital role in the Spartans' 6-2 offense averaging 4.68 assists per set and recorded two double-doubles this season.
- Kelsay has started at setter in all 32 matches this season and has notched double-digit assists in all 32 contests. The Wheaton, Ill., native averages 7.03 assists per set and also ranks ninth in the Big Ten in service aces with 0.28 per set.
Milestone for Moster
Sophomore libero and Cincinnati, Ohio native Kori Moster is making a climb up the single season record book for digs. Moster currently sits at second all-time at MSU with 530 digs this season. In just two seasons at MSU, she has already surpassed 1,000 career digs. Moster hit the 1,000 digs milestone at Penn State last weekend after notching 16 digs, bringing her total to 1,004 for her career.
Spartan Connection at LIU Brooklyn
Jennifer Robinson, an assistant coach at LIU Brooklyn, is a Michigan State graduate and was a two-year captain who helped the Spartans capture a pair of Big Ten Championships. Robinson, formerly Jennifer Whitehead during her MSU career, joined the United States Professional Volleyball league in 2000 and competed professionally for two seasons.
A Glance at UCLA
The host UCLA Bruins come into the tournament as the seventh seed and are the defending national champions. UCLA finished the regular season at 22-7 and tied for fourth in the Pac-12 at 14-6. Senior Tabi Love leads the Bruins with 4.54 kills per set and senior Rachael Kidder isn't too far behind at 4.00 kills per set. Libero Bojana Todorovic averages 3.90 digs per set and freshman Becca Strehlow and sophomore Megan Moenoa each average over 10 assists per set.
A Look at the Blackbirds
LIU Brooklyn earned an automatic bid into the field of 64 by winning the Northeast Conference Tournament Championship. The Blackbirds have won 19 straight matches and finished the regular season with a record of 25-7 and a 16-0 mark in NEC play. The Blackbirds are led by Annika Foit with 3.98 kills per set and Tamara Ignjic with 3.03 kills per set. Adriana Vinas Joy averages 4.28 digs per set and Vera Djuric averages 10.73 assists per set.
Spartans Retain State Pride Flag
Michigan State retained the State Pride Flag for the third-straight season and the second consecutive season on total points. The Spartans edged Michigan, 139-133, after each team swept matches on the road. A record-setting crowd of 5,059 fans took in the match at Jenison Field House and it was the third-largest crowd in program history.
Player of the Week Honors
Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski was named the Big Ten Player of the Week as announced by the conference office on Monday, Oct. 22. Wicinski tallied 18 kills, nine digs and two solo blocks in a 3-0 sweep at Michigan. Against No. 20 Ohio State, Wicinski had a season-high 29 kills, four service aces, six digs and two blocks in a tough 3-1 loss to the Buckeyes.
Wicinski is the third Spartan to earn recognition from the Big Ten this season as Kori Moster and Alexis Mathews were each named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 3 and Sept. 17, respectively.
Stunning Ranked Opponents
The Spartans won two matches against teams ranked in the top-10 this season. By stringing together wins over then-No. 4 Nebraska and then-No.10 Minnesota, Michigan State notched its first back-to-back wins over top-10 teams since 1995.
Coaching Milestone for George
Head coach Cathy George became the 34th active coach to reach 500 career wins after MSU swept Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 29. George currently has a record of 509-335 during her 26 years of coaching and is in her eighth year at MSU. George has also compiled wins at North Dakota State, Texas-Arlington, and Western Michigan.