Match Notes: Illini Return to Michigan for Matchup with No. 25 Spartans
Oct. 11, 2012
Saturday, Oct. 13 • No. 22 Illinois at No. 25 Michigan State • Jenison Field House • 5:30 p.m. CT
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (15-3, 3-3 Big Ten)
The Spartans have had a great first half of 2012, sitting at 15-3 overall and in the top half of the conference standings at 3-3. Michigan State opened with year with a perfect, 12-0, non-conference slate, but did not face any ranked teams in their pre-conference tournaments. MSU has since defeated Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, while falling to No. 17 Purdue, No. 6 Nebraska and No. 10 Minnesota. The Spartans are 15-0 against unranked opponents, but 0-3 against those in the top 25.
Statistically speaking, the Spartans rank in the top 5 in the Big Ten in every category except digs, including leading the conference in aces (1.70/set) and sitting in second in opponent hitting percentage (.165). They sit in seventh nationally in aces, ninth in hitting percentage (.293) and 12th in kills (14.49/set). Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski is second in the NCAA in aces (0.62), seventh in points (5.20) and 23rd in kills (4.29), while classmate Alexis Matthews is 36th in the nation in blocks per set, averaging 1.35.
ILLINI VS. THE SPARTANS
The Illini are 44-23 all time against the Spartans and 20-11 in East Lansing. The Orange and Blue have won eight of the last 10 contests, but lost their most recent matchup, 3-1, on Nov. 18, 2011, at Jenison Field House.
The Illini won 24-straight matches against the Spartans from 1981 to 1994, until Michigan State won 5-0 on Oct. 6, 1995, in the Illini's first experimental match with new scoring rules (that did not stick) that attempted to make volleyball fit better in a TV time slot.
LAST TIME OUT
The Orange and Blue saw their losing streak extend to four on Wednesday night, as the Illini fell, 3-0, to Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines forced the Illini out of system for a large number of plays, watching the Orange and Blue play on their heels in the first two sets. After falling 25-16 and 25-19 in the first two, Illinois stormed back in the third set to take an early lead, but were unable to close on a 24-23 set point and fell, 26-24. Jocelynn Birks made history in the third set, slamming 14 kills to hit a new school single-set record, dating back to 2002 (single-set breakdowns are not available for matches prior to 2002).
Redshirt freshman Jocelynn Birks erupted for 14 kills in the third set at Michigan on Oct. 10, the most in a single set since at least 2002. Birks topped Rachel VanMeter's 13 kills, registered in the fourth set against APSU on Sept. 2, 2005. Single-set breakdowns are not available for the majority of matches prior to 2002.
BELTRAN MOVING UP DIGS CHARTS
In her first two seasons at Illinois, Jennifer Beltran recorded the top two single-season digs performances in school history, ranking her fifth all-time in career digs entering the season (1,194). On Sept. 15, Beltran passed Lauren Harks `04, and into fourth all time, when she recorded her first career double-double (11a, 18d) against Cincinnati. On Sept. 28, she vaulted over Mary Coleman '98 into third place, registering 12 digs at Indiana. One week later, on Oct. 5, Beltran passed Tracey Marshall '99 to move into second place, tabbing 25 digs against Ohio State. The junior libero has a ways to go before catching Ashley Edinger in the No. 1 spot (1,921), currently owning 1,470 career digs.
Additionally, Beltran is the active leader in the Big Ten in career digs, and sits in 22nd all time in the conference.
JOHNSON BREAKS INTO BLOCKING TOP TEN
Senior middle blocker Erin Johnsonhas become one of Illinois' best blockers in school history, tabbing 24 solo blocks and 389 assists for a total of 413 blocks. She currently ranks ninth in block assists, and broke into the top 10 against Penn State, with her 410th career block. She needs two block assists and three total blocks to move up in each respective category. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native is the only active Big Ten player with 400+ career blocks.
LUHRSEN EIGHTH ALL-TIME IN ASSISTS
In her second season as the Illini's starting setter, redshirt senior Annie Luhrsen ranks eighth all-time at the University of Illinois in career assists, with 2,376. She is one of just nine setters to reach the 2,000-mark at Illinois. The Wheaton, Ill., native registered an additional 1,165 assists her freshman year at UConn, bringing her combined career total to 3,541.