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Illini, Spartans Clash in NCAA Sweet 16 Match Friday

Dec. 6, 2017

NCAA Regionals
Host Site Penn State University; Rec Hall
Dates/Times Friday, Dec, 8: Penn State vs. Missouri, 2 pm | MSU vs. Illinois, 4 pm
Saturday, Dec. 9: Saturday Winners, 8 pm
Tickets Penn State Ticket Office
Live Statistics Michigan State vs. Illinois | Saturday (TBA)
Tournament Central Click Here
John Kreger, pxp
Download Game Notes Michigan State | Illinois | Missouri | Penn State
Social Media @MichStVB | Facebook


  • No. 12 Michigan State has advanced to the regional round of the 2017 NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament and will take on conference foe (RV) Illinois in Round of 16 on Friday.

  • Host and overall No. 1 seed Penn State will play Missouri in the first regional semifinal of the day at 2 pm, followed by MSU-Illinois at 4 pm. The winners of Friday's contests will meet at 8 pm on Saturday. Games will be played at Rec Hall on the Penn State campus.

  • MSU will have a radio broadcast of all matches - home and away - throughout the rest of the season. John Kreger returns behind the mic for the call on

  • Friday's match be streamed live on ESPN3, and Saturday's regional will air live on ESPNU.

  • Links to live statistics, video webstreams, and more can be found at NCAA Regional Tournament Central


  • The 2017 Spartans finished the regular season with a 21-8 overall record, and were 14-6 for a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten Conference.

  • No. 12 MSU defeated No. 25 Missouri State 3-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, and upset No. 9 seed/ No. 15 Creighton 3-1 on its home floor to advance to the regional round.

  • The Big Ten Conference sent eight teams into the NCAA Tournament field, and six are still alive in the Sweet 16. The Big Ten had three teams seeded (No. 1 Penn State, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 7 Minnesota) that all advanced, in addition to the and also got the Spartans, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Purdue lost in the second round to No. 11 seed Utah, while Michigan lost in the first round to Colorado State.

  • Michigan State is making its 20th overall NCAA Tournament appearance, and earned its seventh 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. MSU made 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament fields from 1994-2003.

  • MSU is making its 10th NCAA appearance in the 13-year tenure of Spartan head coach Cathy George. George owns a 12-9 record in NCAA Tournament games as the Spartan mentor, and is 18-14 overall in 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament in her career.

  • MSU has won its first-round NCAA Tournament matchup in each of the last seven seasons (2011-17).

  • MSU's streak of seven 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 in each of the last seven seasons (2011-17).

  • MSU had 10 NCAA Tournament teams on its 2017 schedule. The Spartans went 5-7 against eight teams in the tournament field, but had its matches vs. American and Florida in September wiped out due to Hurricane Irma.

  • In each of MSU's last two trips to the Sweet 16, the Spartans faced a Big Ten team in the regional semifinal - MSU played Michigan in 2012 in Los Angeles (L, 3-0) and faced off with Penn State in 2013 in Lexington (L, 3-1). In 2007, the Spartans played Nebraska in the regional semi before the Huskers became a part of the Big Ten.

  • The Illini are under the direction of first-year head coach Chris Tamas, and defeated both Hawai'i and No. 8 seed Washington last weekend in Seattle in five-set matches.

  • MSU is 26-48 all-time against Illinois, including a 3-0 sweep at Jenison Field House on Nov. 10. MSU has won two straight in the rivalry after a streak of four straight victories for the Illini.

  • Illinois is led by Jacqueline Quade, who is averaging 3.37 kills per set (13th, B1G) and middle Ali Bastianelli, who is hitting .377 (sixth, B1G) and averaging a B1G best 1.61 blocks per set. The Illini were bolstered by the return of senior libero Brandi Donnelly from injury, who ranks third in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.40). Setter Jordan Poulter averages 10.71 assists per set (eighth, B1G) and averages 2.43 digs and 0.90 blocks per frame.

  • MSU is 7-44 all-time against Penn State, and the Nittany Lions enter the regionals with a 31-1 overall record. PSU has won seven straight in the series, including a pair of 3-1 decisions in the 2017 meetings. The Spartans last beat Penn State in the B1G season opener in 2013 in State College - redshirt seniors Brooke Kranda and Megan Tompkins were a part of that team.

  • Russ Rose is in his 38th season as the Penn State mentor, and his team is led by Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Haleigh Washington, who is hitting a B1G-best .515 and is averaging 3.06 kills and 1.50 blocks per set (second, B1G). B1G Player of the Year Simone Lee is averaging 3.87 kills per frame (fourth, B1G), hitting .316; Ali Frantti is averaging 2.46 kills per frame. Libero Kendall White chips in 3.73 digs per frame, good for seventh in the Big Ten.

  • Three of the eight sets between MSU and Penn State this season went to extra points. In the first meeting (Oct. 13 in State College), the third set went 30-28 in favor of the Nittany Lions to give them a 2-1 match lead; in East Lansing (Nov. 1), both the first and third sets were 27-25 affairs, the first one going to the visitors before MSU took the third set by an identical score.

  • Missouri (22-11, 13-5 SEC) finished third in the Southeastern Conference behind Florida and Kentucky, which each earned top-four seeds in the NCAA Tournament and are hosting regionals this weekend. Wayne Kreklow is in his 13th season as the head coach and 18th on the Mizzou staff.

  • The Tigers' offensive balance rivals MSU's - Missouri has six players averaging between 2.05 and 2.58 kills per set. Alyssa Munlyn is fifth in the SEC with a .391 hitting percentage, and she ranks second in the league with 1.47 blocks per frame. Kira Lawson averages 3.43 kills per set, is hitting .289 and adding 2.30 digs per frame.

  • Should MSU and Missouri meet on Saturday, it would be the first-ever meeting of the schools.

  • MSU posted a 21-8 overall record in the regular season, the seventh 20-win season in Cathy George's tenure.

  • In 2017, MSU finished 14-6 in the Big Ten - the most B1G wins in a season in the Cathy George era and fourth-most in program history. MSU won a program-record 19 B1G games in 1995, 18 in 1996, and 15 in 1998. The Spartans won 13 games in both 2001 and 2016.

  • Fourth place was MSU's highest Big Ten finish since 2001. MSU was one game behind Minnesota (15-5). Penn State and Nebraska (19-1) shared the regular-season crown.

  • With 27 Big Ten wins over the last two seasons, it is MSU's highest two-season Big Ten win total since the 1997 and 1998 teams combined for 27. The school record is 37 wins in two seasons (1995 and 1996), followed by 30 wins in 1995 and 1996, and 28 victories in 1994 and 1995.

  • MSU owned an 11-2 record at home in 2017, with the lone losses to No. 1 Penn State (Nov. 1) and No. 7 Nebraska (Oct. 24). The Spartans are 7-6 in road matches, and a perfect 5-0 in neutral-site matchups.

  • With three wins over top 10 teams so far this season, it is the most top-10 victories in a single season in school history.

  • MSU has not suffered back-to-back losses this season, with a perfect 8-0 record in matches after a setback.

  • Michigan State fell two spots to No. 12 in the final regular-season American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll. MSU spent seven consecutive weeks in the AVCA poll at No. 10 or higher (Oct. 9 - Nov. 20), MSU's longest stay in the Top 10 since the 1996 season.

  • Six Big Ten programs earned spots in the final regular-season AVCA coaches poll: No. 1 Penn State, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 8 Minnesota, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 12 MSU, and No. 16 Purdue. Illinois and Michigan are among the teams receiving votes.

  • The Spartans went 7-2 in non-conference action, dropping true road contests at Georgia Tech and (RV) Notre Dame. The Spartans won two of the three tournaments they played, and had one entire weekend of games (at No. 2 Florida, and against American and UNC-Greensboro) washed out due to Hurricane Irma.
    :   Florida sits at No. 2 in the RPI, while American (24-7, 13-1 Conference) earned the Patriot League autobid to the NCAA Tournament.

  • Eleven Big Ten volleyball teams ranked in the top 52 of the final NCAA RPI, including nine of the top 46: No. 1 Penn State, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 23 MSU, No. 25 Purdue, No. 26 Illinois, No. 29 Michigan, No. 44 Ohio State, No. 50 Iowa, and No. 52 Maryland.

  • The Big Ten is once again the pacesetter in Division I volleyball, despite losing the most 2016 All-Americans (9) to graduation of any conference in the country. The Big Ten returned 17 2016 All-Americans, six more than the Big 12 (11) and seven more than the Pac-12 and SEC (10 each).

  • The Big Ten went a combined 128-27 in non-conference action (.826), just edging out the Pac-12 (104-22, .825). The SEC also won more than 100 games, going 105-40 (.724).

  • The Spartans placed four athletes on both the AVCA All-Region and All-Big Ten teams, which were announced over the last two weeks. MSU had four All-B1G selections for just the fourth time in program history, and the most since the 2000 season. The Spartans had multiple First Team All-Big Ten selections for the first time since 1995 and 1996, when three Spartans made the first team in each season. MSU's four All-Region picks matches MSU's high for a single season, which was also accomplished in 2014 with an identical three First Team picks and one Honorable Mention.

  • MSU ranks in the top 20 nationally in four categories: seventh in aces (1.73/s), 12th in kills (14.43/s), 19th in assists (13.29/s), and 18th in hitting percentage (.276).

  • Michigan State averaged 15.86 kills per set in its first two NCAA Tournament matches, hitting .331 and averaging 3.0 blocks, 15.86 digs, and 2.0 service aces per frame. Meanwhile, the Spartans held their opponents to a .198 hitting percentage and just 10.86 kills per frame.

  • MSU's performance in the NCAA Tournament ranks fifth nationally in aces per set (2.0), fifth in kills per set (15.86), sixth in hitting percentage (.331), and ninth in blocks per set (3.0).

  • The Spartans lead the Big Ten and rank ninth nationally in service aces (1.73 per set). MSU boasts three individuals among the league's top 10 in aces per set (Holly Toliver, Rachel Minarick, and Brooke Kranda).

  • MSU posted 14 blocks in the 3-0 sweep of Missouri State, the Spartans' season high. The Spartans rank seventh in the league in blocking (2.27/s).

  • The Spartans are second in the Big Ten with 14.43 kills per set, which also ranks 12th nationally. MSU's 14.43 kill per set average is its highest in the 25-point rally scoring era (since 2008).

  • MSU's current .276 hitting percentage would be the third-highest in program history. MSU's current average of 1.73 aces per set would rank 12th, 14.87 digs would be 13th, and 13.29 assists would be 15th.

  • With 14.87 digs per set, the Spartans are third in the B1G rankings. MSU has five players averaging between 2.22 and 3.24 digs per set.

  • MSU continues to have a well-distributed offense. The Spartans have four players averaging between 2.62 and 3.55 kills per frame.

  • MSU hit .300 or better 11 times in 20 Big Ten matches, and 16 times overall, including seven times in the last nine matches. Eight of MSU's .300 hitting performances were .350 or better.

  • MSU went 17-2 in three-set matches in 2017, which is the third-most three-set wins in a season in school history. The Spartans had 24 three-set sweeps in 1995, and tallied 18 in both 1996 and 2016.

  • The Spartan senior class was the No. 6 recruiting class in the country back in 2014, while the current freshman class was ranked No. 9 this past summer by PrepVolleyball.

  • Cathy George is the third Big Ten head coach to amass 600+ wins, along with Penn State's Russ Rose (1,244) and Wisconsin's John Cook (657). She ranks 19th among active coaches in coaching victories, and 50th all-time in Division I history.

  • Michigan State averaged 3,583 fans for Big Ten matches at Jenison Field House. MSU ranks eighth in Division I in both overall (40,834) and average attendance (3,141).


  • The AVCA All-Region teams were released on Tuesday, Dec. 5. Michigan State placed four players on the two teams: Autumn Bailey, Alyssa Garvelink, and Rachel Minarick were First Team selections, while Holly Toliver was an Honorable Mention pick. Bailey is a First Team All-Region pick for the fourth time (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) while Garvelink (2016, 2017) and Minarick (2014, 2017) earn the honor for the second time in their careers. Toliver is a first-time honoree.

  • The All-Big Ten teams were released on Nov. 27, and Michigan State placed four players on the Conference's two teams: Autumn Bailey and Alyssa Garvelink were First Team selections, while Rachel Minarick and Holly Toliver were Honorable Mention picks. In addition, Abby Monson earned the Sportsmanship Award. Bailey was one of 10 unanimous selections.

  • Bailey, Garvelink, and Minarick all earned All-Big Ten honors for the second time in their careers, and Toliver earned her first post-season nod. Garvelink was MSU's first two-time First Team selection since Lauren Wicinski in 2012 and 2013 and the ninth player in school history to be named to the first team multiple times. Bailey and Minarick both earned Honorable Mention kudos in 2016.

  • Bailey earned First Team All-BIG EAST honors in 2013 and 2014 at Marquette, making her a three-time First Team All-Conference honoree in her career.

  • Rachel Minarick and Alyssa Garvelink are both CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees, as announced on Thursday, Nov. 16. Minarick boasts a 3.97 cumulative GPA as a Kinesiology major, while Garvelink owns a 3.36 GPA as a Communications major. The Division I Academic All-America Team will be announced on Dec. 11.

  • The Spartans had just two Big Ten Players of the Week in 2017. Autumn Bailey shared Defensive Player of the Week honors with Minnesota's Molly Lohman on Sept. 25 after a 16-kill, 25-dig performance in a five-set thriller over No. 5 Wisconsin, and 13 digs and 14 kills in a sweep of No. 1 Minnesota in Minneapolis. Rachel Minarick was the B1G Setter of the Week on Oct. 23, after a career-best 58 assists in a win over Michigan and then surpassed the 4,000 assist mark and added 10 digs in a road sweep of Maryland.

  • MSU boasts a senior-dominated starting lineup: OH's Autumn Bailey, Brooke Kranda, and Holly Toliver, MB's Alyssa Garvelink and Megan Tompkins, setter Rachel Minarick, and freshman libero Jamye Cox. A seventh senior, Abby Monson, is a standout defensive specialist who has appeared in 27 of 31 matches.

  • A key to the Spartans' success this season is a widely-distributed offense (and defense). MSU boasts four players averaging between 2.62 and 3.55 kills per set, two who average 0.77 blocks per set or more, and five players boast dig averages of 2.22 or more per frame.

  • MSU also has three players among the top four in the Big Ten (and among national leaders) in service aces per set: Holly Toliver is second the Big Tenand 46th nationally (0.41 aces per set). Brooke Kranda (0.37, 3rd B1G) and Rachel Minarick (0.36, 4th B1G), are also among Conference leaders.

  • Autumn Bailey leads the Spartans with 3.55 kills per frame (seventh, B1G), is hitting .279, and is averaging 3.18 digs per set (11th, B1G). Bailey is the only six-rotation player in the Big Ten ranked in the top 11 in the league in both categories.

  • Bailey has posted 11 double-doubles this season, including MSU's win over No. 9 seed Creighton (18 kills, tying her season best, to go with 11 digs) She has 64 double-doubles in her career.

  • In 15 matches of 31 matches, Bailey has led the Spartans in kills. After being MSU's kill leader in just two of nine pre-conference matches, she led MSU 12 times in the final 15 Big Ten matches.

  • Bailey's 2.92 digs per set in her MSU career ranks ninth all-time in the MSU record book. She is also 10th all-time at MSU in both attempts per set (8.93) and kills per set (3.33).

  • Nationally, Bailey ranks eighth among active players in career kills. She has 1,799 career terminations (which includes 1,059 in her two seasons at Marquette), and she is sixth among active players in career attempts (4,792). She is 21st among active players in kills per set (3.93), and also boasts 1,415 career digs, which is 72nd - but she ranks sixth in career digs among active six-rotation OH.

  • Bailey ranks 24th in the Big Ten in career kills and tied for 38th in career digs.

  • In NCAA Tournament games, Bailey is averaging 3.86 kills, 3.0 digs, and 0.71 blocks per set, hitting .308.

  • Rachel Minarick averages 11.19 assists (fourth, B1G/24th nationally), 0.36 aces (fourth B1G), and 2.23 digs per set. Her senior-year numbers are the best in any season of her MSU career.

  • Minarick owns 4,493 career helpers, she is second all-time at MSU behind Nikki Colson (4,563, 2000-03). She is 35th on the All-Time Big Ten list, and ranks 12th among active NCAA Division I players in total career assists. She needs 70 assists to become MSU's all-time leader.
  • Minarick has 133 career service aces, which ranks 10th all-time in program history. Holly Toliver owns 121 career aces, and Brooke Kranda has 91.

  • Minarick had 40+ assists in 10 of 20 Big Ten matches, including a career-best 58 in MSU's home victory over Michigan on Oct. 18.

  • Minarick averaged 11.71 assists in the first two NCAA Tournament games, which ranks eighth nationally. Her 82 total assists is 13th.

  • Minarick flirted with a triple-double against Missouri State in the first round, with 35 assists, eight digs, and a season-best six blocks (one solo).

  • Alyssa Garvelink will graduate as one of the top blockers in school history. She currently ranks fifth all-time at MSU in total blocks (547) and fourth in block assists (490). Her 1.21 blocks per set average over four years is fifth all-time at MSU, and ranks eighth among active Division I players. She is tied for 30th all-time in the Big Ten record book in career blocks.

  • Garvelink surpassed 1,000 career kills in the Nov. 18 match vs. Indiana. She is the 23rd Spartan to reach the milestone, and is one of just three current Big Ten athletes with 1,000 kills and 500 blocks in their career. Penn State's Haleigh Washington and Nebraska's Brianna Holman are the other two.

  • Garvelink's career hitting percentage (.308) ranks fourth all-time at MSU, while her 2017 average of .392 would fall fourth in the single-season top-10 list.

  • Garvelink currently ranks fourth in the B1G and 25th nationally in the B1G in blocks per set (1.34). Her hitting percentage of .392 ranks third in the Conference (19th nationally), and she's contributing 2.62 kills/set. She is eighth among active NCAA Division I players in total career blocks (547), and is 18th in blocks per set (1.21).

  • Last weekend, Garvelink averaged 3.57 kills, 1.57 blocks, and 0.57 digs per frame, hitting .488 (25-5-41). Her hitting percentage ranks 14th among Tournament participants, and her blocks per set is 15th. In addition, her 13 kills vs. Creighton matched her previous high in an NCAA match (originally set in 2014 vs. Stanford as a freshman) and her seven blocks vs. Missouri State is her NCAA match high in her career.

  • Six-rotation OH Holly Toliver ranks third on the team in kills per set (2.97) and is fourth in hitting percentage (.247). She is contributing 2.23 digs and 0.53 blocks per frame. Toliver is second in the B1G and ranks 46th nationally in service aces per set (0.40, and boasts career-best numbers in kills, hitting percentage, aces, assists, digs, and blocks.


  • In the Nov. 11 home match vs. Northwestern, Toliver outscored the Wildcat squad on her own in the third and deciding set. MSU won the set by a 25-9 score - Toliver recorded five kills, five aces, and also had five digs in that frame alone. With MSU up 22-9, Toliver closed out the match with three straight aces to seal the win.

  • Toliver averaged 2.86 kills, 2.29 digs, and 0.43 assists per set in last weekend's NCAA matches.

  • Against Creighton, Toliver had 13 kills and 11 digs, adding three assists. Both were career NCAA Tournament highs, and she also posted her seventh double-double of the season.

  • Brooke Kranda and Megan Tompkins are MSU's fifth-year seniors, and are making their fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament. They were redshirt freshmen in 2013 when the Spartans went to the Sweet 16.

  • Kranda averages 3.09 kills per set (second on the team) and is averaging 0.58 blocks, 0.51 digs, and 0.37 aces per set (third, B1G).

  • Against Missouri State, Kranda served up six service aces, which ties for second in the MSU annals for service aces in a three-set match. She added 12 kills, four digs, and two blocks, hitting .308.

  • Kranda owns MSU's four-set record for service aces in a match (nine, set at Purdue in 2016). Her current .240 hitting percentage is also a career high.

  • Kranda averaged 3.57 kills, 0.71 digs, and 0.57 blocks per set in the first two NCAA Tournament matches, and her nine aces (1.29 per set) are both 2017 NCAA Tournament national bests.

  • Senior middle Megan Tompkins is averaging 0.77 blocks per set (good for second on the team), and also chipping in 1.31 kills per frame and hitting .267.

  • Tompkins posted six blocks and hit .750 (3-0-4) in the NCAA opener vs. Missouri State, then contributed six kills and two blocks and hit .312 in the win over Creighton.

  • Tompkins has led the Spartans in blocks eight times this season, including two of final three regular-season matches.

  • Jamye Cox has been the Spartan libero in each of the last 24 matches. She is averaging 3.40 digs per set on the season, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten.

  • Over the first two NCAA Tournament games, Cox popped up 39 digs for an average of 5.57 per set. Her total digs ranks fifth in the NCAA Tournament this season, and her average ranks eighth.

  • Cox has 357 digs on the season, which is tied for the second-most digs by a freshman in the MSU record book. The top spot on that list is held by Kori Moster (474, 2011) and Cox's 357 ties Veronica Morales (1994).

  • Cox ranks eighth in the Big Ten (Conference games only) with 3.44 over the 20-game schedule.

  • Cox has the second-most digs among freshmen in the Big Ten. Hannah Gruensfelder from Ohio State posted 456 (4.34 per set).

  • Abby Monson is averaging 2.22 digs per set as a back row specialist.

  • Monson has the second-best reception percentage (.970) on the team, with five errors in 168 tries. Autumn Bailey leads the way with just eight errors in 412 chances (.981), and Holly Toliver is third (.952).

  • Samantha McLean had become a regular contributor for the Spartans in the back row, but has missed the last five games with injury. She is averaging 1.37 digs per set, with a season-best four assists against Iowa (10/28).

  • Three Senior Aces are among the five freshmen on MSU's 2017 roster. Alyssa Chronowski (No. 30), Jamye Cox (No. 40), and Meredith Norris (No. 25) all enrolled at MSU in January and already have a semester of college courses under their belts. Julia Hatcher and Bella Legarza round out the Spartan newcomers. In addition, redshirt freshman Lauren Swartz will see her first collegiate action this fall after redshirting a year ago and earning the team's Most Improved Award.

  • On Nov. 8, MSU announced that five players would join the volleyball program in the fall of 2018. Four are Under Armour High School All-Americans, and three hail from the state of Michigan.: DS Lauryn Gibbs (Mt. Morris, Mich./EA Johnson), OH Maura Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Community) and MB Rebecka Poljan (Bath, Mich./Lansing Catholic). Virginia native Elena Shklyar (McLean, Va./Langley), a setter, and 2015 Louisiana Player of the Year MB Naya Gros (New Orleans, La./ Louise S. McGehee) round out the class.



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