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Volleyball Faces Arizona in NCAA Tournament First Round

Senior Kyndra Abron and the Spartans look for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2007.

Dec. 1, 2011

Michigan State (21-11) vs. Arizona (19-12)
2011 NCAA Tournament First Round
 Date Friday, Dec. 2
 Time 5:30 p.m. ET
 Location Austin, Texas | Gregory Gym
 Radio John Kreger (play-by-play)
Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
 Internet Coverage Free Live Video | GameTracker
Host Site Headquarters
 Tickets Available on
 Game Notes Michigan State | Arizona
 Statistics Michigan State | Arizona
 Podcasts Cathy George Weekly Press Conference
Kyndra Abron | Jenilee Rathje
 Social Media @MichStVB   |  Facebook

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team begins its postseason quest on Friday, facing off against Arizona in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Spartans and Wildcats are scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. ET first serve in Austin, Texas.

The winner of the MSU/Arizona match will face either No. 1-seed Texas or Texas State on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

This will mark the Spartans' 14th NCAA Tournament all-time and fourth with head coach Cathy George at the helm. Overall, the Spartans are 13-13 in tournament matches.

The Spartans finished the regular season at 21-11 overall and were sixth in the Big Ten at 10-10.

Spartan senior Jenilee Rathje was named to the 15-member All-Big Ten Team on Tuesday, 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.

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).

The Wildcats enter the weekend with a 19-12 overall record, while also posting an 11-11 Pac-12 Conference record. Courtney Karst is leading the team with 345 kills this season, seeing 229 of those in conference action.

Quarterbacking the attack is Chloe Mathis who has tallied 819 assists in conference play and 933 overall. Cursty Jackson leads the team with 100 blocks, tallying 62 in the conference. Candace Nicholson anchors the last line of defense for the Wildcats with her 396 overall digs, and 326 within the conference.

The Wildcats and the Spartans had no mutual opponents on the year. MSU trails in the all-time series, 2-1.

Head coach Cathy George is in her seventh season at the helm of the Spartans, compiling a record of 118-103 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 four of her seven seasons, including an NCAA Regional Semi-final appearance in 2007.



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