|NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS|
|Dates/Times||Friday/Saturday, Dec. 2-3, 2016|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich.; Jenison Field House|
|Tickets||Spartan Ticket Office|
|Schedule/Live Stats/ Webstreams||Tournament Central Website|
|Tournament Bracket||NCAA Division I Interactive Bracket|
|Radio Broadcasts|| Spartan Sports Network John Kreger, pxp
Download the SSN App
|Download Game Notes||Michigan State | Arizona | Cleveland State | Fairfield|
|Weekly Press Conference||Cathy George|
|Social Media||@MichStVB | MichiganStateVB @MichStVB|
No. 15 Michigan State has earned the right to host the first and second rounds of the 2016 NCAA Volleyball Championship at Jenison Field House.
All three matches will be streamed online on Michigan State All-Access platform on MSUSpartans.com. All MSU matches will also have a radio broadcast via SpartanSportsNetwork.com. John Kreger will call all the NCAA Tournament action for the Spartans this season.
Links for all live statistics, video webstreams, and other tournament information can be found at the Tournament Central Website.
The Spartans earned the tournament's overall No. 9 seed, and will take on MAAC Champion Fairfield in the first round at 7:30 pm on Friday, the second game of the day. At 5 pm, Horizon League entry Cleveland State will take on Arizona out of the Pac-12. Winners of the Friday matches will play at 7:30 pm on Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 16.
The 2016 Spartans finished the regular season with a 24-8 overall record, and were 13-7 for a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten has six teams seeded (No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 9 MSU, No. 12 Michigan, and No. 16 Penn State) and serving as first-round hosts, and overall sent eight teams into the NCAA Tournament field.
MSU is making its 19th overall NCAA Tournament appearance, and earned its sixth consecutive at-large bid to the Championship, the second-longest streak in school history. MSU made it to the second round in 2011, 2014, and 2015, and advanced to the Sweet 16 both 2012 and 2013. The Spartans made ten consecutive NCAA Tournament fields from 1994-2003.
The Spartans are making their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in the 12-year tenure of current coach Cathy George, who owns 596 career coaching victories. MSU has won five consecutive first-round NCAA Tournament matches.
Michigan State is hosting NCAA Tournament games for the fifth time in school history and the first time since 2003. MSU also hosted tournament events in 1995 and 1996, when MSU advanced to the Final Four and Elite Eight, respectively. The Spartans also hosted a first-round match in 1998.
MSU has never played more than one NCAA Tournament game at home in a season. The Spartans are 2-2 in their previous four NCAA tournament games at Jenison Field House.
MSU's streak of six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is the third-longest in the Big Ten, behind Penn State and Nebraska. In addition, MSU, Nebraska, and Penn State are the only teams to finish .500 or better in Big Ten play over the last six seasons (2011-16).
MSU has previously played all three teams in this weekend's tournament field. Fairfield and MSU last met in 2012 in a non-conference tournament at UConn, where MSU earned a 3-0 win over the Stags.
Cleveland State and MSU have the most extensive history, as the Spartans own a 13-2 edge in all-time meetings. Cleveland State played at the Spartan Showcase in September of 2011, the most recent of seven times that the Vikings have played in Jenison Field House. MSU has won seven straight in the series.
MSU and Arizona have met four times previously, the most recent a 2011 First-Round NCAA Tournament matchup at Texas (a 3-1 Spartan victory). This will be the first time competing in East Lansing for the Wildcats, as three of the previous meetings have been at neutral sites, and MSU played at Arizona in a pre-Conference tournament in 1990.
MSU has played 14 matches against 10 teams in the 2016 NCAA Tournament field. MSU is 7-7 against those teams, which includes a 2-1 mark in non-conference matches.
MSU's 24-8 record is the most regular-season victories for a Spartan team since 1996. The Spartans need one win to tie for the most in the Cathy George era. The most victories for the Spartans under Coach George came in 2012, at 25-10.
Thirteen 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 campaign. MSU had seven 20-victory seasons under Chuck Erbe, and six combined among the first three MSU coaches.
George currently has 596 career victories in her 30th season as a head coach. George's 231 wins at Michigan State is the third-highest total behind Annelies Knoppers (250) and Chuck Erbe (244).
MSU is 14-2 overall at Jenison Field House this year, and is 10-6 in matches away from East Lansing (6-6 in true road matches).
Michigan State fell one spot to No. 15 in the American Volleyball Coaches (AVCA) National poll for the week of Nov. 28. 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 Minnesota, No. 2 Nebraska, and No.3 Wisconsin). No. 13 Penn State, No. 15 MSU, and No. 17 Michigan are among the top 25, while Ohio State, and Purdue, are in the receiving votes category. In addition, No. 11 Florida and No. 20 Western Kentucky were on MSU's non-conference schedule.
The Spartans rank seventh in the Big Ten (40th in Division I volleyball) with 2.50 blocks per set. MSU has 23 matches with seven team blocks or more, including 14 double-digit blocking efforts. MSU has posted double-digit blocks in seven of the last nine matches, and established its season high of 15.5 in the regular-season finale at Iowa.
The Spartans have allowed just five double-digit block performances, and all came in Big Ten play. Michigan twice posted double-digit blocking performances, and two (vs. Nebraska and vs. Minnesota at home) were five-set affairs. The Spartans won three of those five matches - only Nebraska and Michigan (in Ann Arbor) defeated the Spartans among those opponents.
MSU recorded 13 service aces in its match vs. Purdue on Oct. 29, bettering its 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 (1.94), and is fourth nationally with a total of 212 aces. MSU has six service aces or more in 19 of 32 matches.
MSU's 212 aces is tied for sixth all-time in a single season, and its 1.898 per set would be tied for fifth - the program's highest per-set average since 2001, when the Spartans averaged 1.81.
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 eight 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. The Spartans have held eight opponents under a .200 hitting percentage in eleven Big Ten matches - Iowa (x2), Rutgers (x2), Penn State, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue (x2), Northwestern, and Michigan. MSU boasts a balanced attack, with five players averaging between 2.10 and 3.15 kills per set, and defensively has four averaging between 1.96 and 3.44 digs per frame.
The Green and White owns 17 three-set victories in 32 matches. Just nine times in 32 matches has MSU played more than three sets - the Spartans are 17-6 in three-set matches overall, 5-0 in four-setters, and are 2-2 in their five-set affairs. MSU ranks fourth in the Big Ten in overall winning percentage (.750).
In MSU's two five-set matches, the teams required extra points. On Sept. 24, No. 1 Nebraska won the fifth set 16-14; On Nov. 18 at No. 2 Minnesota, the Gophers took an 18-16 victory in the final frame.
MSU is fourth in the Big Ten in overall wins (24) - only No. 2 Nebraska (27) No. 1 Minnesota and No. 3 Wisconsin (25) have more. Dayton and Western Kentucky are tied for the national lead in victories (30), where MSU has the fifth-most overall victories.
The Spartans posted a season-best 73 digs in their most recent outing at Iowa. MSU had its three highest dig performances in its last five games - it posted 66 vs. Michigan on Nov. 12, and 64 at Minnesota on Nov. 18.
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).
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 on Nov. 12 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.
The winner of this weekend's second-round match will advance to next weekend's regional. No. 1 overall seed Nebraska is in line to host if it defeats first-round opponent New Hampshire and either Wichita State or TCU. The highest remaining seed in the region after second-round play would host the regional.
MSU has played NCAA Tournament games twice previously in Lincoln - in the 1997 first and second rounds. MSU opened the tournament with a win over Butler but fell to the host Huskers in the second round.
Alyssa Garvelink headlined four Spartans who earned All-Big Ten Honors on Tuesday afternoon. Garvelink earned First Team accolades, juniors Rachel Minarick and Autumn Bailey were Honorable Mention selections, and Allyssah Fitterer was the team's Sportsmanship Award honoree. Michigan State claimed three spots on the All-Big Ten teams for the first time since 2013, when Lauren Wicinski (First Team), Kori Moster, and Alexis Mathews earned Conference accolades.
Garvelink's First Team selection was the first-ever Conference postseason honor for the junior middle. Minarick was a Big Ten All-Freshman team selection and an Honorable Mention AVCA All-America in 2014. Bailey was the 2013 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and the 2014 Player of the Year, and also earned Honorable Mention All-America honors in 2014, all at Marquette.
Garvelink ranks second in the Big Ten and 14th nationally in blocks per set (1.44). Her current 156 blocks on the season is 10th all-time in the single-season annals for the Spartans, while her 139 block assists is seventh.
Averaging 2.44 kills per set, Garvelink is hitting .357, which is good for sixth in the Conference and 56th among Division I players.
Garvelink's 399 career blocks puts her in ninth place in the all-time record book, while her 356 block assists is sixth. Garvelink's current 1.17 career blocks per set average ranks sixth in the MSU career annals.
Garvelink's 1.44 blocks per set on the season (her career best) ranks seventh in a single-season at MSU. Her .357 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.
Garvelink led MSU in blocking in 24 of 32 matches. She owned the team's highest hitting percentage 13 times (and in each of the last five matches). Over the last seven matches, she has averaged 2.12 blocks per frame.
Garvelink established a new career best with 10 block assists vs. Illinois on Nov. 5. That tied the school record for most block assists in a three-set match, most recently accomplished by Alexis Mathews on Nov. 24, 2010 vs. Michigan.
Rachel Minarick tied her career best with 55 assists on Nov. 18 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 is averaging 10.31 assists per set on the season, which ranks eighth in the Big Ten. It is also her career-best average.
Minarick is the seventh setter in school history to surpass 3,000 career assists. Her current total of 3,323 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 9.89 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.
Autumn Bailey leads MSU with 3.15 kills per set, which is 10th among Big Ten leaders. She has been MSU's top kill producer in 14 of 32 matches this season, and owns 17 double-digit kill performances.
Bailey ranks second on the team with 2.70 digs per set, behind libero Abby Monson. She is also 12th in the Big Ten with 0.28 service aces per set, and averages 0.36 blocks per frame. She owns nine double-digit dig performances and a team-best eight double-doubles on the year.
Bailey's 20 digs in the Nov. 12 match vs. Michigan was the third-highest total for a Spartan in a match this season. Bailey's 19 kills and 49 swings vs. Michigan are also a Spartan season highs in both categories.
Allyssah Fitterer is hitting .361 on the season, averaging 2.10 kills per frame and 0.73 blocks per set. She is fifth in the Big Ten and 46th nationally in hitting percentage.
Fitterer became the 22nd Spartan to surpass 1,000 career kills, getting that termination early in the first set vs. Michigan. 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 then-career-best .301, but through 32 matches she is 46th in the nation with a .361 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 .361 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.
Chloe Reinig has been the Spartans' kill leader in 11 of 32 matches, and has 14 double-digit kill performances.
Reinig is averaging 2.72 kills and 0.91 blocks per set, which is second on the team in both categories. She is also contributing 0.62 digs. She has led MSU in kills in four of the last six matches.
In Big Ten matches only, Reinig averaged 1.00 blocks (12th, B1G) and 2.57 kills per set, both of which are second among MSU players.
Michigan State has four athletes ranked among the top 15 in the Big Ten in service aces per set: Brooke Kranda (first , 0.59), Holly Toliver (second, 0.37), Rachel Minarick (fifth, 0.33), and Bailey (12th, 0.28). Kranda is sixth nationally.
Kranda had 17 kills and seven digs, adding five blocks in the season finale at Iowa - all season bests. Her seven digs and five blocks were both career bests - the previous high for the 6-6 Kranda in a match was five digs - which she tied earlier in the week in the match at Michigan.
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.
Abby Monson has started all 32 matches at libero this season, and has improved her average to 3.44 digs per frame, good for 11th in the Big Ten. She set a new career best with 25 digs last Saturday at Iowa, the second time she's been over 20 this season.
Monson has had double-digit digs in eight of MSU's last nine matches. In that stretch, she has averaged 4.35 digs per set and 1.0 assists per frame.
Holly Toliver is second in the Big Ten in service aces per set (0.37) and averages 1.32 kills and 0.23 blocks per frame. She averages 1.96 digs per set, 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 108 of 109 sets, sharing the team lead with libero Abby Monson.