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MSU volleyball holds annual banquet, names team awards

January 9, 2017
The Spartans celebrate after scoring a point during the game against Arizona on Dec. 3, 2016 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans were defeated by the Wildcats, 3-2.
The Spartans celebrate after scoring a point during the game against Arizona on Dec. 3, 2016 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans were defeated by the Wildcats, 3-2. —
Photo by Victor DiRita | and Victor DiRita The State News

On Jan. 8, the MSU volleyball team held its annual brunch banquet to celebrate the season. 

In 2016, the Spartans had one of their best seasons in program history, finishing off with an overall record of 25-9 and 13-7 during Big Ten play. The Spartans' 25-9 record tied the most wins by head coach Cathy George during her time at MSU. The Spartans finished the season after their five-set loss to Arizona as No. 19 in the last American Volleyball Coaches, or AVCA, national poll.

Junior outside hitter Alyssa Garvelink was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 season, while also earning the team's Playmaker Award. She hit impressive milestones during the season by tying the school record for block-assists in a three-set match with 10 against Illinois. The junior was ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten for total blocks and No. 3 in blocks per set. The two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week is currently ranked No. 9 in MSU history with a career total of 406 blocks.

In other awards, junior setter Rachel Minarick took home the only award that wasn’t determined by team vote, the Kirkby Scholar-Athlete Award. The junior is a First Team Academic All-District selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Minarick also earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second time in her career this season. Minarick, also a captain, has a 3.95 cumulative grade-point average as a kinesiology major. She is the seventh setter in school history to pass 3,000 career assists with her current career total of 3,323, which ranks sixth all-time for MSU.

The next two major awards went to seniors Allyssah Fitterer and Autumn Christenson. Christenson took home the Most Inspirational Player Award. In her time at MSU, she dealt with five knee surgeries that limited her playing time with the Spartans. The surgeries had her on the sidelines cheering on her teammates.

While Christenson received this award last year, Fitterer is now also a recipient of the Extra Mile Award. With her fair share of injuries in her four years playing for the program, she still led the Spartans with a hitting percentage at .361, which ranked seventh in the Big Ten. In 2016, Fitterer passed the 1,000 kill mark in a game against in-state rival, University of Michigan. She was a three-time Honorable Mention AVCA All-North Region pick and Academic All-Big Ten honoree. She received Most Improved in 2013 and Most Inspirational Player in 2014.

Garvelink and Fitterer were also two of three Spartans to earn postseason AVCA honors after the season ended. The third and final Spartan was redshirt-junior Autumn Bailey.

Four seniors are expected to graduate out of the program this year, giving way to the junior class next fall for the Spartans.

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