CHAPEL HILL - Carolina volleyball will go on the road to face two more prominent opponents this weekend, traveling to No. 14 Michigan State and Michigan to compete in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
PREVIEWING NO. 14 MICHIGAN STATE
Michigan State finished the 2013 season in the Round of 16, where the Spartans fell to eventual champion Penn State. They finished the season with a 23-12 record and a 10-10 record in the Big Ten, good for a seventh place finish.
The Spartans had significant losses after the 2013 season, with the graduation of AVCA All-American Lauren Wicinski, AVCA All-American Alexis Matthews, and captain Kristen Kelsay. MSU brings in a solid freshmen class, ranked No. 6 by PrepVolleyball.com. Freshmen setter Rachel Minarick is averaging 10.25 assists/set, and freshmen outside hitter Holly Tolliver is averaging 3.00 kills/set through four matches this season.
Head Coach Cathy George, entering her 10th year at Michigan State, has brought in two straight top-10 classes recruiting classes to East Lansing. Sophomore Chloe Reining was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2013, and is currently third on the team in kills. Sophomore opposite/middle blocker Allyssah Fitterer earned MVP honors at the UAB/Samford Invitational during the opening weekend of the season.
Michigan State opened the 2014 season by sweeping Southeastern Louisiana, UAB, and Jacksonville State, and then defeating Samford 3-1 to win the UAB/Samford Invitational.
UNC is 0-2 against Michigan State, with the last match occurring in 2009 in East Lansing. The Tar Heels face the Spartans Friday, Sept. 5, at 7:00 p.m. ET. The match will be shown live on the Big Ten Network, and subscribers can also view it on the BTN2Go website.
Michigan entered the 2013 season ranked No. 7 after finishing the 2012 season with a run to the National Semifinals. After a strong preconference schedule, Michigan struggled in the Big Ten and finished 18-14, with an 8-12 conference record. The Wolverines lost to LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Michigan lost several significant contributors from the 2013 season, including AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and Michigan all-time blocks leader Jennifer Cross, AVCA Honorable Mention All-American Molly Toon, and 2012 Division I Volleyball Championships All-Tournament honoree Lexi Erwin.
Returning for Michigan is AVCA Honorable Mention All-American setter Lexi Dannemiller, and Big Ten All-Freshmen team selection Abby Cole. Cole leads the Wolverines with 3.83 kills/set and a .512 hitting percentage. Freshmen Adeja Lambert added in 2.42 kills/set and .58 blocks/set during Michigan's opening weekend, where they went 2-1 and lost to Arkansas in a five-set thriller.
Michigan Head Coach Mark Rosen is going into his 16th season with the Wolverines, and is one of two Big Ten coaches to guide his team to the NCAA tournament 13 of the past 15 years.
UNC is 2-2 all-time against Michigan, with the last match going to Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1998. Carolina will face the Wolverines Saturday, Sept. 6, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Live stats will be provided at the link here.