Looking Back: 2006 Spartan Volleyball Season Recap
Dec. 21, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - "Success through perseverance" was the theme of the 2006 Michigan State volleyball season. Second-year head coach Cathy George and her staff challenged the young squad to set high - yet attainable - goals, with the most important being a return to the NCAA tournament. The team responded with a 19-12 overall record, including a 10-10 mark in Big Ten play, and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament, proving Spartan volleyball is on the rise.
State finished sixth in the Big Ten with its 10-10 mark in league play, the highest league finish since the 2003 season. MSU swept the season series with Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan en route to its first State Pride Series Flag since the 2001 campaign. The Green and White received votes in the CSTV/AVCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll on two occasions in 2006, swept its opponent 16 times and defeated a ranked opponent (No. 16 Purdue, 11/11) for the first time since the 2004 season.
Three members of the Michigan State volleyball team were honored with an All-Big Ten selection in 2006. Outside hitter Ashley Schatzle was selected to the All-Big Ten Team, outside hitter Katie Johnson was an All-Big Ten honorable mention honoree, and freshman middle blocker Vanessa King garnered All-Freshman Team accolades. The selections mark the first Spartan All-Big Ten selections since the 2004 campaign.
Five different Spartans earned all-tournament accolades during the regular-season. Junior outside hitter Jessica Hohl was named the 2006 Spartan Invitational MVP, while teammates Allison Ianni and Schatzle also garnered all-tournament accolades. Johnson was named the Ball State Nike/Active Ankle Weekend Tournament MVP, while Ianni and libero Nicole Colaluca also garnered all-tournament honors. Schatzle added to her honors when she received honorable mention American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Mideast Region accolades. The award is the first such honor of her career, and marks the first Spartan AVCA postseason honoree since the 2004 campaign.
Schatzle and Miken Trogdon were honored with selections to the Third-Team 2006 ESPN Magazine Academic All-America Volleyball District IV Team. To be eligible for the prestigious award, a player must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.20 in the classroom, be a starter or key reserve on the volleyball court, and be in sophomore athletic and academic standing.
Three Spartans were honored by the Big Ten Conference with Player of the Week selections in 2006. Schatzle was honored by the conference with her first career Big Ten Player of the Week selection on Oct. 16. The Monroe, Mich., native averaged 6.5 kills per game and hit .423 to help lead the Spartans to a pair of wins over Michigan and Iowa. The selection marked the first Spartan honoree since the 2003 season. King garnered the first-ever Spartan Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award on Nov. 13 for her contributions in the upset win over then-No. 16 Purdue. The Spring Lake, Mich., native posted her best defensive match of the year with 10.0 total blocks for the Green and White. Colaluca also earned her first career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award on Nov. 27. The senior libero from Naperville, Ill., contributed 18 digs and three assists versus Michigan, and posted 25 digs in the regular-season finale versus Iowa.
Allison Ianni spent just one season in the Green and White, but made an immediate and lasting impact. The Okemos, Mich., native directed MSU to its best offensive season since the 1996 campaign with a .275 attack percentage, while State ranked atop the national rankings in kills per game for the first five weeks of the year. Ianni was one of 87 volleyball players from around the nation, and the only member of the Big Ten Conference, to record a triple-double in 2006. She kicked off the season by posting 11 kills, 55 assists and 10 digs on Aug. 25 against IPFW. The feat marked the first Spartan triple-double since the 2000 season. Ianni finished the season ranked sixth in the Spartan single-season record book with 13.11 assists per game, while the mark ranks first on the MSU career record chart.
In just two seasons at Michigan State, libero Nicole Colaluca solidified her mark in the Spartan record book with back-to-back record breaking years. Colaluca finished the 2006 season ranked second in the single-season record book with 4.71 digs per game, trailing only her own record set in 2005 (5.41), while her 5.08 career digs per game mark is the highest in Spartan history. Colaluca registered 26 matches with double-digit dig totals in 2006, including a season-high performance with 27 against Utah in NCAA Tournament first-round play.
Outside hitters Katie Johnson and Ashley Schatzle anchored the Spartan offense in 2006, as Johnson led the squad with 4.68 kills per game and Schatzle was just behind with 4.57. Johnson hit .320 or better in 15 of State's 31 matches, including a season-high performance of .551 versus Eastern Michigan. Johnson matched the second-highest mark in Spartan history when she set a career high with 35 kills in the Spartan upset over Purdue in November. Schatzle recorded double-digit kill totals in 29 matches in 2006, including a career-best with 25 against Purdue. She also led State with five double-doubles in `06, including 18 kills and 15 digs in NCAA Tournament first-round action versus Utah.
Middle blocker Jessica Hohl had a breakout season in 2006. The junior from Waterville, Ohio, was named the MVP of the Spartan Invitational, tallied 14 matches with double-digit kill totals, and led the Green and White defense with 1.02 blocks per game. Hohl finished the season strong, posting a career-high 20 kills against Utah in postseason play. Freshman Vanessa King also made an immediate impact on the court for MSU. Her .314 attack percentage and 1.00 blocks per game and rank second and fifth, respectively, in the Spartan freshman record book, while her 87 block assists ranks third.
Defensive specialists Miken Trogdon and Melany Rarey also made significant contributions to the Spartan backcourt in 2006. Trogdon contributed nine matches with double-digit dig totals, while she led the squad with 28 service aces for the year. Rarey set a career high with 15 digs versus Michigan in late November, while her three service aces versus Tennessee Tech in early September was also a career best. The duo combined for 3.88 digs per game.
State began the season with an unblemished 6-0 record, including notable wins over Xavier, Ball State and Miami (Fla.) en route to the Ball State Nike/Active Ankle Weekend and Spartan Invitational titles in early September.
The Spartans opened conference play with a hard-fought, five-game loss to then-No. 11 Purdue, but followed with a victory over Indiana. MSU suffered consecutive losses to No. 14 Wisconsin and Minnesota for a 1-3 start in Big Ten play. MSU answered, winning three of its next four with victories over Illinois, Michigan and Iowa. Consecutive losses to No. 24 Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State halted MSU's streak, but the Green and White followed with road victories at Northwestern and Illinois to even its conference record at 6-6.
MSU suffered home losses to No. 12 Minnesota and No. 10 Wisconsin in early November before back-to-back road victories over Indiana and No. 16 Purdue. The win versus Purdue marked the first Spartan victory over a ranked opponent since the 2004 campaign. MSU completed season sweeps over Michigan and Iowa in the final weekend of regular season play, and anxiously awaited word on an NCAA Tournament bid.
Michigan State advanced to its first NCAA Tournament since the 2003 season, and it marked the 11th appearance in program history. MSU traveled to the campus of UCLA where it lost a five-game decision to Utah, ending its postseason run.
The Spartans are preparing for 2007 and look forward to building on the success of the 2006 campaign.
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