Michigan State Volleyball Earns NCAA Tournament Berth

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State volleyball team was awarded an at-large selection to the 2007 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship tonight, announced live on ESPNU. The Spartans will square off with Kentucky on Friday, November 30 in Dayton , Ohio . The winner of the Big Ten/SEC battle will face the winner of the Dayton , the No. 15 national seed, and Lipscomb contest on Saturday.

The team sat together awaiting its postseason fate tonight. The wait became elongated as they waited for the South Alabama vs. Chattanooga men’s basketball game on ESPNU to end, so the NCAA selection show could begin. About 15 minutes after the originally scheduled start time of 8 p.m., the selection show began and the room began to buzz with anticipation. However, that buzz would soon turn to tension as bracket after bracket went across the screen with the name Michigan State yet to be displayed. But as the clock struck 8:35, the second-to-last bracket appeared on the large projection television and the room erupted in jubilation. The team now knew their season would continue for at least one more week.

MSU earns a ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season and 12th time in the program’s history. The Spartans are 11-11 all-time in tournament play, having advanced to the regional round on three occasions and to the national semifinal in 1995.

Michigan State concluded the 2007 regular season with a 19-13 overall mark and finished in a tie for fifth in the Big Ten Conference at 10-10. Seniors Ashley Schatzle ( Monroe , Mich. /Monroe) and Katie Johnson ( Brooklyn , Mich. /Columbia Central) have been the leaders up front all season for the Green and White, who rank second in the Big Ten in kills. Schatzle leads the team and is third in the conference with 499 kills, a 4.50 kills per game average, and is second with 345 digs. Johnson is close behind with 495 kills of her own, fourth in the league. Freshman Jenilee Rathje ( Mount Pleasant , Mich. / Mount Pleasant ) is third on the team with 267 kills, but leads the squad with 127 blocks (8 BS, 119 BA). Classmate Lauren O’Reilly ( Langley , British Columbia /Pacific Academy) is among the national leaders in assists with 1,479, breaking the school’s freshman single-season record a few weeks ago. Anchoring the Spartans’ defense, senior Miken Trogdon (Lisle, Ill./Wheaton St. Francis) has posted a team-best 373 digs.

Kentucky, who finished with a 22-9 overall record and placed second in the SEC Eastern Division at 13-7, is led by Nicole Britenriker, who is first on the team with 464 kills, second with 139 blocks and third with 357 digs. Queen Nzenwa leads the Wildcats with 195 blocks (24 BS, 171 BA) and is second with 367 kills. Sarah Rumley is the UK setter, having dished out 1,480 assists.

The Spartans and Wildcats have met on three instances with MSU sweeping each of the three matches. The two schools last met on September 20, 1997 in Lexington , Kentucky .

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