No. 1 women's volleyball hosts No. 15 Michigan State, No. 10 Michigan

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Coming off of a 9-1 mark in non-conference play, the No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball team officially kicks off the Big Ten slate this weekend, hosting No. 15 Michigan State (11-1) and No. 10 Michigan (10-1) at home in Rec Hall.

The Nittany Lions will square off against the Spartans Friday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m., before taking on the Wolverines, Saturday, Sept. 28. The matchup between PSU and Michigan will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, with Audrey Flaugh and Mike Couzens on the call. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.

PENN STATE CLASSIC IN REVIEW Penn State wrapped up its non-conference slate with a 9-1 record after a 3-0 weekend in the Penn State Classic. The Nittany Lions defeated Albany, Eastern Kentucky and Yale in straight sets, securing 3-0 wins in each non-conference victory this season. Katie Slay, Deja McClendon and Dominique Gonzalez all earned All-Tournament team honors for their efforts on the court. In the PSU win against Albany, the Nittany Lions held the Great Danes to 18 points, which is the fewest surrendered by Penn State since rally scoring began in 2001. The previous low was 22 points, recorded by Buffalo in 2009

PENN STATE VS. MICHIGAN STATE
The Nittany Lions own a 37-6 all-time series against Spartans. In the most recent outing between the two clubs, Nov. 24, 2012, Penn State claimed a 3-0 victory. The win extended the PSU winning streak vs. MSU to 18 straight matches without a loss, dating back to Sept. 26, 2003. Within that span, the Lions posted 12 consecutive three-set sweeps from Nov. 2004 to Nov. 2009.

SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
After reaching the NCAA Regional Semifinals in 2012, Michigan State is out to an 11-1 start in 2013, ranked No. 15 in the latest AVCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll. Most recently, the Spartans wrapped up non-conference play with a 3-0 weekend at home, picking up wins against Eastern Michigan, Duquesne and Cincinnati. The Spartans highlighted the non-conference slate with a 3-1 triumph against then-No. 12 Pacific shortly after losing to Pacific.

Lauren Wicinski is leading MSU with 173 kills, after registering her 2,000th career kill against EMU early in the weekend. The senior combined for 52 kills during the weekend, good for the MVP title in the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational. Close behind Wicinski with 101 kills is senior Alexis Matthew's, who's .468 hitting percentage ranks third in the Big Ten. She's also leading the team with 51 blocks, which ranks fifth in the league.

PENN STATE VS. MICHIGAN
Penn State holds a 42-3 all-time advantage against the Wolverines, having recorded wins in the last 19 consecutive matchups. In the most recent tilt between the two programs, Oct. 10, 2012, Penn State captured a close five-set win. Of the 45 total matches played between both teams, only 10 have gone more than three sets, with Penn State posting the eventual win in seven of the close encounters.

SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES
Michigan is coming off one of the most successful years in program history, having earned the program's first appearance in the NCAA National Semifinal match in 2012. Despite losing to Texas in the title match, Michigan will enter Rec Hall ranked No. 10 with a 10-1 record in 2013. The Wolverines opened the season on a 7-0 winning streak, including a win against No. 12 Oregon, before U-M saw its streak snapped by No. 16 Florida State. Most recently, Michigan closed out its non-conference slate with wins against Marshall, Maryland and No. 24 Ohio in the Michigan Invitational.

Returning NCAA All-Tournament team honoree Lexi Erwin and Jennifer Cross are at the helm of the U-M offense as both have combined for more than 110 kills each. Cross' .385 hitting clip ranks third in the Big Ten. Defensively, libero Tiffany Morales' 4.22 digs per set ranks her fifth in the conference.

ROSE HITS 1,100 WINS - APPROACHING HISTORIC MARK
The Penn State win against Yale marked head coach Russ Rose's 1,100th career victory. With the triumph, Rose improves to 1,100 - 176 all-time, which puts him just six wins shy of tying UCLA head coach, Andy Banachowski's mark of 1,106 for second on the all-time list, behind Hawaii head coach, Dave Shoji.

Earlier this season, Shoji surpassed Banachowski's mark, to become the all-time leader in the category. With Banachowksi no longer active, both Rose and Shoji will continue to go head-to-head, battling for the top spot.

HANCOCK STILL LEADING THE NATION IN ACES PER SET
Junior Micha Hancock is leading the nation in aces per set for the third straight week, according the latest NCAA DI stats release. Hancock is averaging 0.91 aces per frame, which also ranks her first in the Big Ten.

With four aces against Eastern Kentucky, Hancock notched her 200th career service ace. After adding one more against Yale later in the day, she is just 34 aces away from tying Ellen Hensler (1983-86) for first on the PSU all-time list.
As a team, Penn State is averaging 1.84 aces per set, which ranks 11th nationally and leads the Big Ten. Aside from Hancock, Nia Grant and Dominique Gonzalez have has also recorded nine aces each, which is tied for second on the squad.

THAT'S SOME HEAVY HITTING
After hitting .649 over the weekend, senior Katie Slay moved up to second nationally in hitting percentage with a .520 clip on the year. Her mark also leads all student-athletes in the Big Ten Conference. As a team, the Nittany Lions are hitting .340 which ranks third in the country and first in the Big Ten.

PSU REMAINS NO. 1 IN AVCA TOP 25 COACHES' POLL
Following two back-to-back undefeated weekends, the Nittany Lions claimed the No. 1 ranking in the AVCA weekly Top 25 Coaches' Poll for the second straight week, while also picking up top rankings in the RichKern.com and Volleyball Magazine polls. In the AVCA poll, Penn State received 53-of-60 possible first-place votes. Last year, Penn State spent six weeks atop the standings, including five consecutive weeks from Sept. 24 to Oct.22, before earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Nov. 9. The No. 1 ranking marks the 78th time in program history that Penn State has reached the top of the polls, having earned its first-ever No. 1 ranking Sept. 2, 1997.

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Big Ten schedule continues to roll on as the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana and Purdue for the first conference road trip of the season. Penn State will take on the Hoosiers, Thurs. Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. and Purdue Sat. Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. The match against Indiana will be broadcast live on ESPN2.   

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Last Updated September 26, 2013