Nov. 29, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Big Ten Conference office released the postseason awards and honors for the 2011 volleyball season on Tuesday. Spartan senior Jenilee Rathje was named to the 15-member All-Big Ten Team, while classmate Kyndra Abron was an honorable mention selection.
Rathje, one of seven unanimous selections to the all-conference team, became just the seventh Spartan to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors in consecutive seasons. Entering the postseason, she leads the team with 487 kills (4.27 per set), which also ranks third in the Big Ten and 25th in the nation. Rathje also has posted a team-best eight double-doubles, and is third in digs with 243 (2.13 per set) and fifth in blocks with 60 (0.53 per set). For her career, the Mt. Pleasant, Mich., native, is first in MSU history in sets played (489), third in matches played (140), seventh in block assists (332) and eighth in kills (1,486). Rathje was also MSU's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
"Jenilee has continued to have a major impact on our program," said MSU head coach Cathy George. "There is no doubt Jenilee picked up from where she left off last year, when she was also named a unanimous selection as a middle blocker. This season, with added responsibility and a position change to outside hitter, Jenilee continued her domination in the league. Jenilee exemplifies student -athlete as she was also named Academic All District earlier this season."
Abron earns conference recognition for the second time in her career, having been named to the first-team as a sophomore. She is second on the team in kills behind Rathje with 391 (3.40 a set), setting a new career high. Abron has also set career marks in blocks with 86, which is tied for second on the team, and hitting percentage (.275).
"Kyndra really stepped up this year and carried a major part of our offense," said George. " Her physicality was a major matchup concern for most teams in the league and her powerful attacking left a lasting impression on the coaches as well as opposing defenders.
"We are thrilled to have these two honored by the Big Ten coaches and are excited for them to help lead us in a postseason run."
Michigan State travels to Austin, Texas on Friday to face Arizona in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The match is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET. The Spartans finished the regular season at 21-11 overall and sixth in the Big Ten at 10-10. The win total ties for the most in head coach Cathy George's seven years at MSU.