MSU Set For Final Home Matches Against Illinois, Northwestern

  0 volleymob | November 08th, 2017 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

Press Release courtesy of Michigan State Athletics



  • Michigan State has its final two-game home weekend of the season with visits from Illinois and Northwestern on tap.
  • Both matches air live on BTN2Go this weekend, and live statistics for both matches will be available on
  • 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
  • Fans holding tickets for Friday’s men’s basketball game vs. North Florida can gain free admission to volleyball on Friday night by presenting their ticket at Jenison Field House. On Saturday, women’s basketball tickethholders can show their ticket stub from the game earlier in the day vs. Robert Morris and get in free to volleyball.
  • Saturday is MSUFCU Night,and fans can obtain two free tickets to the volleyball match by presenting their MSUFCU card at the entrance to Jenison Field House.
  • On Saturday, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is hosting a food drive at all four of MSU’s home athletic events (swimming & diving, women’s basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey). Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted at the front entrance of Jenison Field House.TEAM NOTES 
  • Michigan State split last week’s matches, falling midweek to No. 1 Penn State before rebounding with a 3-0 road sweep of Northwestern.
  • With a 10-4 mark in Big Ten play, the Spartans have secured a seventh-straight season with a .500 mark in Conference action. MSU is one of three teams – along with Penn State and Nebraska – to be .500 or better in seven straight seasons in Big Ten play.
  • MSU owns an 8-2 record at home, with the lone losses to No. 1 Penn State (Nov. 1) and No. 7 Nebrkasa (Oct. 24). The Spartans have three regular-season matches remaining at home: these two weekend matches vs. Illinois and Northwestern, and next Saturday’s senior night match vs. Indiana. The Spartans are 5-4 in road matches, and a perfect 4-0 in neutral-site matchups.
  • In the first 14 Big Ten matches of the season, the Spartans have played seven games against teams ranked seventh or higher in the AVCA national poll and own a 3-4 mark in those contests Four of those top-10 matches were road affairs.
  • MSU’s four losses in B1G play have come to the two league frontrunners in home-and-home series (No. 2/1 Penn State and with No. 4/ 7 Nebraska.)
  • 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 concluded its home-and-home series for 2017 with four teams – Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, and Wisconsin – with a 5-3 mark against those squads. Michigan, Northwestern, and Indiana are MSU’s other two-plays for 2017. MSU plays Northwestern for the second time in a week, has two matches remaining against Indiana, and road matchs at Michigan and Purdue. MSU meets the Boilers in the penultimate game of the season on Nov. 24, the lone meeting of the teams in 2017.
  • Michigan State moved up to No. 8 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll, MSU’s highest spot occupied in the national poll this season. The Spartans were No. 10 for three weeks and No. 9 last week, making this five-week stretch MSU’s longest stay in the Top 10 since the 1996 season.
  • Six Big Ten programs earned spots in the latest AVCA coaches poll, : No. 1 Penn State, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 8 MSU, No. 10 Wisconsin, and No. 21 Purdue. Illinois is 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. 5 in the latest RPI, while American (22-7, 13-1 Conference) sits at the top of the Patriot League standings.
  • 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).
  • Eleven Big Ten volleyball teams are ranked in the top 50 of the NCAA RPI through Oct. 29, including nine of the top 46: No. 1 Penn State, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 15 MSU, No. 23 Illinois, No. 25 Purdue, No. 31 Ohio State, No. 34 Michigan, No. 43 Maryland, and No. 44 Iowa.
  • MSU is 25-48 all-time against Illinois, which enters the weekend with an 18-7 overall record and 9-5 mark in Conference play. The Illini are under the direction of first-year head coach Chris Tamas
  • Illinois is led by Jacqueline Quade, who is averaging 3.36 kills per set (12th, B1G) and middle Ali Bastianelli, who is hitting .394 (6th, B1G) and averaging a B1G best 1.66 blocks per set. The Illini were bolstered by the return of senior libero Brandi Donnelly from injury, who ranks fifth in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.33).
  • Illinois and MSU have met just once in each of the last three seasons, and Friday will be the lone meeting of the teams in 2017 as well. Illinois has won four straight in the series, which included a 3-0 sweep last year in Champaign.
  • Northwestern comes into the week at 13-13 and is 3-11 in Big Ten play. The Wildcats have dropped eight of nine, which includes a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Spartans last Saturday in Evanston. MSU has won eight of the last nine matches vs. the Wildcats.
  • Symone Abbott leads the Big Ten with 4.27 kills per set and averages 1.82 digs per frame. Nia Robinson is second with 3.55 kills per set, and Gabrielle Hazen leads the team in blocks (1.11/s) and a .317 hitting percentage. Senior Taylor Tashima averages 10.99 assists per set, good for fifth in the Big Ten.
  • Michigan State went on the road and took a 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-18) win at Northwestern last Saturday. The Spartans held large leads in all three sets, but had to hold off a surging Wildcats squad who battled back from a 10-2 deficit to cut the MSU lead down to two points in the third frame before the Spartans closed it out. The Spartans got a big night from senior Autumn Bailey, who had a season-best 18 kills and hit .536 (18-3-28), adding five digs, a block, and a service ace. Alyssa Garvelink added eight kills, hit .429, and had four blocks, and Holly Toliver had seven kills, seven digs, and three blocks. For the home team, Symone Abbott had 11 kills, hit .474 (11-2-19), while Nia Robinson added eight kills
  • Overall, MSU ranks in the top 30 nationally in four categories: 15th in aces (1.66/s), 23rd in kills (14.27/s), 30th in assists (13.19/s), and 30th in hitting percentage (.262).
  • The Spartans lead the Big Ten and rank 15th nationally in service aces (1.69 per set). MSU boasts three individuals among the league’s top five in aces per set (Rachel MinarickHolly Toliver, and Brooke Kranda).
  • MSU has had six double-digit blocking performances this season, and only one in Big Ten play. The Spartans rank eighth in the league in blocking (2.25/s)
  • With 15.24 digs per set, the Spartans are third in the B1G rankings. MSU has six players averaging between 2.25 and 3.29 digs per set.
  • MSU continues to have a well-distributed offense. The Spartans have three players averaging better than 3.0 kills per frame, and four between 2.53 and 3.37.
  • MSU hit .300 or better seven times in the first 14 Big Ten matches. MSU’s two lowest hitting performances in B1G play came vs. Nebraska ( .147 on the road and .144 at home), while its high was .396 vs Ohio State (Sept. 30). The Spartans hit .379 in last Saturday’s match vs. Northwestern.
  • 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 celebrated her 600th career victory with the 3-0 sweep of San Diego State (Sept. 1), and needs one win to become the all-time winningest coach in Spartan history. Annelies Knoppers won 250 games from 1974-84, and Chuck Erbe was 244-140 in his 12-year tenure (1993-2004). George is 249-168 in her 13th season at MSU.
  • George is the third Big Ten head coach to amass 600 wins, along with Penn State’s Russ Rose (1,236) and Wisconsin’s John Cook (680). She ranks 22nd among active coaches in coaching victories.
  • MSU’s match at Nebraska (Oct. 4) was the 1,000th match coached in the career of Cathy George.
  • Michigan State has averaged 3,754 fans for Big Ten matches at Jenison Field House. MSU currently ranks ninth in Division I in overall attendance (31,279) and ninth in overall average attendance (3,128).PLAYER NOTES 
  • In 15 of the last 16 matches, the Spartans have gone with a senior-dominated starting lineup: OH’s Autumn BaileyBrooke Kranda, and Holly Toliver, MB’s Alyssa Garvelink and Megan Tompkins, setter Rachel Minarick, and freshman libero Jamye Cox. The lone match where MSU did not use its senior-laden lineup was at Rutgers, where MSU started sophomore setter Maggie Midgette and outside redshirt freshman Lauren Swartz.
  • A key to the Spartans’ success this season is a widely-distributed offense (and defense). MSU boasts four players averaging between 2.53 and 3.37 kills per set, three who average 0.68 blocks per set or more, and four starters boast dig averages of 2.25 or more per frame.
  • MSU also has three players among the top five in the Big Ten (and among national leaders) in service aces per set:Holly Toliver (0.39, 2nd B1G/62nd), Rachel Minarick (0.37, 4th B1G/81st nationally), and Brooke Kranda (0.35 5th B1G).
  • Three Spartans average nearly a block per set or better: Alyssa Garvelink (1.37, 5th B1G/27th nationally), Megan Tompkins (0.77), and Brooke Kranda (0.68).
  • Autumn Bailey recorded her eighth double-double in Big Ten play when she posted 16 kills, 14 digs, and three assists in a four-set battle with No. 1 Penn State last Wednesday, then finished her week with a season-best 18 kills and a .536 hitting percentage along with five digs (out of her team’s 24) in a road sweep at Northwestern.
  • Autumn Bailey leads the Spartans with 3.37 kills per frame (11th, B1G), is hitting .262, and is averaging 3.29 digs per set. She leads the team and ranks 11th in the Big Ten in digs per set. That is the highest standing between the two rankings for a six rotation player in the Big Ten.
  • Nationally, Bailey ranks eighth among active players in kills. She has 1,689 career terminations (which includes 1,059 in her two seasons at Marquette), and she is sixth among active players in career attempts (4,539). She is 17th among active players in kills per set (3.92), and also boasts 1,338 career digs, which is 74th – but she is seventh in career digs among six-rotation players.
  • Rachel Minarick averaged 11.57 assists per set last week vs. No. 1 Penn State and a scrappy Northwestern team on the road. She had a season-best 17 digs vs. Penn State, adding a solo block and two each kills and aces; at Northwestern, her 35 assists moved her into second place on MSU’s career list.
  • Minarick owns 4,179 career helpers, second at MSU behind Nikki Colson (4,563, 2000-03). She is 39th on the All-Time Big Ten list.
  • Minarick averages 11.01 assists (fourth, B1G/27th nationally), 0.37 aces (4th, B1G), and 2.47 digs per set.
  • Minarick is 12th among active NCAA Division I players in total career assists (4,179).
  • Alyssa Garvelink will graduate as one of MSU’s top blockers in school history. She currently ranks fifth all-time at MSU in total blocks (513) and fourth in block assists (462). Her 1.20 blocks per set average over four years is fifth all-time at MSU. She is 41st all-time in the Big Ten record book in career blocks.
  • Garvelink is also closing in on 1,000 career kills. With 974, she is looking to become the 23rd Spartan to reach the milestone.
  • Garvelink currently fourth in the B1G and 27th nationally in the B1G in blocks per set (1.37), which is her career-best average. Her hitting percentage of .375 ranks eighth in the Conference (50th nationally), and she’s contributing 2.53 kills/set.
  • Garvelink is eighth among active NCAA Division I players in total career blocks (513), and is 19th in blocks per set (1.20).
  • Minarick and Garvelink are both CoSIDA Academic All-America candidates. Minarick boasts a 3.97 cumulative GPA as a Kinesiology major. She is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honoree, and last year earned CoSIDA Academic All-Region kudos. Garvelink is a two-time Academic All-B1G honoree who owns a 3.36 GPA as a Communications major.
  • Holly Toliver ranks third on the team in kills per set (3.03) and hitting percentage (.237) and is contributing 2.25 digs and 0.39 aces, and 0.55 blocks per frame. She is second in the B1G and 40th nationally in aces per set.
  • Toliver had ad 14 kills and 11 digs in the Penn State match for her fifth double-double, then posted seven kills, three blocks, and seven digs to go along with one service ace in Saturday’s match vs. Northwestern.
  • Brooke Kranda averages 3.12 kills per set (second on the team) and is averaging 0.68 blocks and 0.37 aces per set (5th B1G).
  • Senior middle Megan Tompkins is averaging 0.77 blocks per set (good for second on the team), and also chipping in 1.36 kills per frame and hitting .271.
  • Tompkins delivered three service aces, a career best, in addition to posting four kills and a block, hitting .500 in MSU’s win at Northwestern.
  • Jamye Cox has been the Spartan libero in each of the last 16 matches. She is averaging 3.15 digs per set on the season, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten. She has worn the libero jersey for the last 14 matches, over which she is averaging 3.65 digs per set.Cox has 246 digs on the season, nine shy of breaking into MSU’s top 10 in the freshman record book for digs in a season. Jennifer Gray had 255 in 1990 and holds down the No. 10 spot.
  • Abby Monson is averaging 2.69 digs per set as a back row specialist.
  • Monson has the second-best reception percentage (.966) on the team, with four errors in 117 tries. Autumn Baileyleads the way with just eight errors in 328 chances (.976).
  • Samantha McLean has become a regular contributor for the Spartans in the back row, and is averaging 1.34 digs per set. She had 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 Wednesday, 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) in addition to 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).
  • MSU has two 2017 graduates who are pursuing their graduate degrees at other universities and playing beach volleyball during their fifth year of collegiate eligibility: Allyssah Fitterer will play at Hawaii, and Chloe Reinig will play this spring at Loyola-Marymount in Los Angeles.
  • MSU readies for a rematch with archrival Michigan in Ann Arbor next Wednesday in a match that will determine the winner of the State Pride Flag, then will honor its seniors on Saturday after a match vs. Indiana at Jenison Field House.
  • Cox is averaging 3.21 digs per set on the season, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten. She has worn the libero jersey for the last 14 matches, over which she is averaging 3.95 digs per set.


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