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Final Four Spot On the Line Saturday for Spartans

Dec. 9, 2017

NCAA Regional Final
Host Site Penn State University; Rec Hall
Date/Time Saturday, Dec. 9; 8 pm
Tickets Penn State Ticket Office
Television/Webstream ESPNU | WatchESPN App
Live Statistics Michigan State vs. Penn State
Tournament Central Click Here
John Kreger, pxp
Download Game Notes Michigan State | Penn State
Social Media @MichStVB | Facebook


  • No. 12 Michigan State takes on host No. 1 Penn State in an NCAA Regional Final match on Saturday in State College.

  • MIchigan State is the only unseeded team remaining in the Elite Eight.

  • Other Elite Eight games on Saturday feature No. 5 seed Nebraska vs. No. 4 seed Kentucky (4 pm); No. 2 Florida vs. No. 10 USC (6 pm), and No. 3 Stanford vs. No. 6 Texas.

  • The Spartans advanced out of Friday's Sweet 16 round with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Big Ten Conference foe Illinois (25-23, 18-25, 25-17, 29-27). The match featured 36 tie scores and 20 lead changes, including 15 lead changes in the fourth set alone.

  • Top-seeded Penn State swept SEC at-large selection Missouri in Friday's first match (25-17, 25-18, 25-19).

  • In Friday's match, Brooke Kranda had 16 kills, and two aces to pace the MSU attack, while Bailey had 13 kills, five aces (tying her season best) and just missed a double-double with nine digs. Holly Toliver had 14 kills, eight digs, and two blocks. Setter Rachel Minarick had 54 assists and 11 digs along with three blocks, and Megan Tompkins hit .500 with nine kills and shared the team lead of four stuffs with Alyssa Garvelink, who also added nine kills.

  • For the Nittany Lions, Simone Lee put down 15 kills on a .500 hitting percentage, while also adding eight digs and a block. Ali Frantti added 11 digs, hitting .455 on the match, while Haleigh Washington posted nine kills and hit .500. Bryanna Weiskircher led the match with 24 assists while adding two service aces and four digs.

  • In Friday's match, MSU found itself tied at the set break 1-1, as the Spartans took a tight first set before Illinois asserted itself for a 25-18 win in set two. After the intermission, MSU got a 25-17 win in set three before a point-for-point battle in the fourth featured 24 tie scores and 15 lead changes as the Green & White emerged victorious by a 29-27 score, getting a thundering kill and match-point ace from Autumn Bailey to seal the win after a 27-27 deadlock.

  • MSU's hitting percentage improved in every set, capping out at .282 in the deciding fourth set. The Spartans hit .255 on the night and held Illinois to .248. The Illini out-blocked MSU by a 12-8 margin, but the Spartans had nine aces on the night as a team.

  • The Big Ten Conference sent eight teams into the NCAA Tournament field, and three remain in the Elite Eight. In addition to No. 1 Penn State and the Spartans, No. 5 Nebraska is still alive in the Tournament, and will take on No. 4 Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.

  • Michigan State has advanced into the Elite Eight for the first time since 1996, and made its seventh appearance in a regional semifinal.

  • In each of MSU's last three trips to the Sweet 16, the Spartans faced a Big Ten team in the regional semifinal. Last night's win over the Illini was the first win for the Spartans in that stretch: 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.

  • 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 13-9 record in NCAA Tournament games as the Spartan mentor, and is 19-14 overall in 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament in her career.

  • 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 in the regular season against eight teams in the tournament field, but had its matches vs. American and Florida in September wiped out due to Hurricane Irma.

  • MSU is 7-44 all-time against Penn State, and the Nittany Lions enter tonight's match with a 32-1 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 .512 and is averaging 3.06 kills and 1.47 blocks per set (second, B1G). B1G Player of the Year Simone Lee is averaging 3.90 kills per frame (fourth, B1G), hitting .321; Ali Frantti is averaging 2.50 kills per frame. Libero Kendall White chips in 3.72 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.

  • Michigan State has averaged 15.73 kills per set over its first three NCAA Tournament matches, hitting .303 and averaging 2.64 blocks, 14.82 digs, and 2.09 service aces per frame. Meanwhile, the Spartans held their opponents to a .216 hitting percentage and just 11.73 kills per frame.

  • 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. MSU is 6-6 and 1-0 in five-set affairs.

  • Brooke Kranda's 16 kills vs. Illinois is a new NCAA Tournament career high for the senior, the second straight match she has elevated her best in an NCAA match. She hit .278 and added two digs and two aces, giving her 11 aces in this year's postseason (1.0 per set).

  • Megan Tompkins had nine kills in yesterday's match, tying her 2017 season best and establishing a new NCCA Tournament career high. She hit .500 and shared the team lead in blocks (four, one solo.). In this year's postseason, Tompkins is hitting .444 (18-2-36) and averaging 1.09 blocks per frame.

  • Rachel Minarick posted 54 assists and 11 digs for her eighth double-double of the season and her fifth match with 50+ assists in 2017. Her 54 assists is her career best in an NCAA Tournament match, and she also added three blocks.

  • Minarick's 54 assists on Friday leaves her 17 shy of becoming MSU's all-time assist leader. Nikki Colson had 4,563 (2000-03), and Minarick is right behind with 4,547.

  • Minarick has 134 career service aces, which ranks 10th all-time in program history. Holly Toliver owns 122 career aces, and Brooke Kranda has 93.

  • Autumn Bailey delivered 13 kills vs. Illinois, a season-best five service aces, and just missed a 12th double-double of the season with nine digs. She finished off the fourth set with a kill to get MSU to match point, and then delivered the match-sealing ace that sent MSU to the Elite Eight.

  • Bailey's 13 kills pushed her over 1,800 in her career (1,812).

  • Alyssa Garvelink had nine kills and tied for the team lead with four blocks on Friday (one solo). She ranks fifth all-time at MSU with 551 career blocks, and her 493 block assists is fourth - one behind Dana Cooke (494, 1993-96) on MSU's all-time list.

  • Garvelink and PSU middle Haleigh Washington are two of the Big Ten's three active players with 1,000 career kills and 500 career blocks. The third is Nebraska's Briana Holman.

  • Six-rotation OH Holly Toliver posted 14 kills vs. Illinois, and added eight digs, a service ace, and two blocks. The 14 kills were her career high in an NCAA Tournament match.

  • Jamye Cox has posted double-digit dig totals in each of the three NCAA Tournament matches, including a team-best 14 vs. the Illini. She is averaging 3.40 digs per set on the season, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten.

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

  • Monson has the second-best reception percentage (.971) on the team, with five errors in 172 tries. Autumn Bailey leads the way with just eight errors in 428 chances (.981), and Holly Toliver is third (.954).

  • Seniors Autumn Bailey, Alyssa Garvelink, and Rachel Minarick were joined by sophomores Samantha McLean, Maggie Midgette, and Lauren Swartz on the Academic All-Big Ten team. McLean and Swartz both boast perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point averages.
    : : : Minarick and Garvelink are both CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees. The Division I Academic All-America Team will be announced on Dec. 11.


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