MAC PLAY OPENS THIS WEEKEND:
The Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule kicks off this weekend with all 13 teams in action. Bowling Green, the East Divisions hottest team with a seven-match winning streak, plays host to Ball State on Friday, the defending West Division and MAC Tournament champion, then hosts Akron Saturday.
Northern Illinois, the West Divisions top team with a 9-2 mark, travels to Akron on Friday to face the defending East Division champs, then faces Buffalo Saturday afternoon.
Perhaps the most intriguing match of the opening weekend is a rematch of last years MAC Championship match, as Western Michigan visits Ball State on Saturday. The Cardinals, who have a 21-match home court winning streak, defeated the Broncos for the MAC title last year on their home floor.
TWO MAC TEAMS WIN TOURNEYS:
Following in the steps of three MAC schools winning tournaments the previous weekend, two league schools picked up tourney titles over the weekend. Northern Illinois and Bowling Green each captured titles in its own tournament. The Huskies defeated Cincinnati in the championship match, while the Falcons won in four games over Illinois-Chicago for their second title in as many weekends.
BGSU, NIU OPEN YEAR ON A ROLL:
After dropping their first two matches of the season, Bowling Green has won its last seven matches, including capturing consecutive tournament titles at Central Florida and its own tournament after defeating Evansville, IUPUI and Illinois-Chicago. During the teams winning streak, junior Caty Rommeck is hitting .397 (110-24-247), and is averaging 4.23 kills, 2.08 blocks and 2.96 digs per game.
Meanwhile, Northern Illinois has won six straight and nine of its first 11 matches. NIU won its own tournament over the weekend, the Huskie/AmeriHost Invitational following wins over Louisiana-Lafayette, Missouri-Kansas City and Cincinnati. The Huskies started the year with a title at Marquette, then finished second at Michigans tourney the following weekend.
MAC CONTINUES TO GAIN WINS:
The first weekend it was three wins over Conference USA. The second weekend it was three victories over schools from the ACC, including two over teams that made it to the NCAA tournament in 1999 (Clemson and Virginia), and a third over Florida State, which was the teams first loss of the season. Last weekend, the conference had four wins over the Big East ad three victories over schools that appeared in the NCAA Tournament last season. The league was 21-21 against non-conference opponents last weekend and is 59-69 this year to date.
NIU NEARS WIN TOTAL OF 1999:
Northern Illinois 9-2 record is the teams best start since it was 10-2 in 1998, and the Huskies are closing in on last seasons win total of 10. NIU didnt pick up its ninth win a year ago until its 23rd match of the year. Part of the reason for the surge is sophomore Tenisha Wilkins 174 kills and 3.95 per-game average, which ranks her sixth in the MAC. Wilkins had a career-high 28 kills in the Huskies win over Cincinnati.
EMU SNAPS LOSING STREAK:
Eastern Michigan ended an 11-match losing streak with a three-game win over Alabama-Birmingham at Portlands Pilot Preview tournament. Senior Sara Schaub garnered all-tournament honors for the Eagles after averaging 5.89 digs and 5.00 kills per game.
JUGGLING POSITIONS FOR THE TEAM:
Miami came together as a team at the South Carolina Invitational, despite missing three mainstays in the RedHawk lineup. Miami, who was without both of its defensive specialists, Robyn Byrnes (sprained ankle) and Amy Doran (mononucleosis) along with Jen Eaton (mono) was able to pick up one win on the weekend, a five-game win over Sam Houston State. Several RedHawk players were forced to play different positions.
SALLEE READY TO MOVE UP THE LIST:
Ball State senior setter Emily Sallee became only the fourth player in MAC history to reach the elusive 5,000 assist plateau for her career in the Cardinals match with UTEP on Sept. 8. Sallee, who has 5,315 career helpers, is 89 assists short of moving up to third all-time in MAC annals. Up next for Sallee is Kent States Nicole Collias, who passed out 5,403 assists and is third all-time.
MAC Career Assists
1.5,794 - Jessica Stout, Miami (1994-97)
2.5,619 - Kim Schaper, UA (1996-99)
3.5,403 - Nicole Collias, KSU (1994-97)
4.5,315 - Emily Sallee, BSU (1997-pr.)
MERRILL PILES UP THE KILLS:
After missing the first weekend recovering from an off-season injury, Ohios Amber Merrill continues to make her presence known just as the MAC schedule is slated to start this weekend. Merrill had three matches with 20 or more kills, including 32 in a five-game loss over Southern Methodist in the championship match of Ohios Bromley Invitational. Merrill, who was named to the all-tournament team, racked up 77 kills in three contests and leads the MAC with a 5.97 kills-per-game average and is second in total number of kills (179). In addition, she is also fourth in attack percentage (.341).
SHIELS, DILLS HELPS UB TO WIN:
Buffalo junior Keri Shiels and sophomore Emily Dills powered the Bulls to a win Saturday at Northwesterns tournament over Towson. Shiels, who was named to the all-tournament team, hit .417 and had 19 kills and 11 digs in the win over Towson, while Dills had a carer-high 10 block assists. Dills, who leads the Bulls with 34 total blocks, had a total of 16 blocks as a freshman at San Francisco.
DREYER CONTINUES TO BE ON FIRE:
Kent State sophomore Jennifer Dreyer was named to her second consecutive all-tournament team, last weekend earning honors at the Cornell Invitational. Dreyer, who hit .333 in three matches last week, had a career-high 19 kills in the Golden Flashes victory over previously unbeaten Cornell.
ROCHO SETS CHIPS TO PAIR OF WINS:
Central Michigan setter Jessica Rocho was named to the all-tournament team at the Blue Demon Invitational last weekend. She averaged 11.23 assists and a team-high 3.46 digs per game. One of her top performances over the weekend came in a win against Providence. Rocho had 39 assists, five kills, 12 digs and an ace.
IN NEED OF SOME HOME COOKING:
Currently there are four MAC schools that have yet to play a match at home -- Kent State, Central Michigan, Toledo and Eastern Michigan. The Golden Flashes will play its first home match of the year on Saturday when it hosts the Chippewas, while the Eagles and Rockets have to wait until next weekend to play at home. CMU is set to open its home schedule on Oct. 7 against Bowling Green.
GEORGE REACHES 100 WIN MARK:
Western Michigan head coach Cathy George marked a milestone on Friday. WMUs 3-1 triumph over UConn was Georges 100th victory as the WMU head coach. Her record currently stands at 100-82 during her tenure in Kalamazoo. George is 16 wins shy of passing Ruth Ann Meyer (1965-76) for second-place on WMUs career coaching wins chart. Meyer was 115-82 at the helm of the Broncos. Georges 56 MAC wins rank No. 2 in program history. Her record as a collegiate volleyball coach stands at 280-168 in just over 14 seasons in the ranks.
SOPHOMORES PACE AKRON:
Three Akron sophomores, two of which were medically redshirted last year, are ranked among the top 15 statistical leaders in various categories. Katie Kuzior is second in blocks (1.33), fourth in kills (4.21) and 15th in hitting percentage (.259), Ashlie Case is third in kills (4.69) and eighth in digs (2.94), while Jenn Snyder is fifth in digs (3.44).
OCONNOR DIGGIN IT FOR HERD:
Freshman outside hitter Shannon OConnor turned in a strong performance for Marshall at last weekends Denver Invitational. OConnor had a team-best 15 digs against Butler while adding a pair of blocks and was the Thundering Herds lone representative on the all-tournament team. She is second on the team in digs per game (2.77).
BSUS HOME STREAK TO BE TESTED:
Ball States 21-match winning streak will get a big test this weekend as the Cardinals host Bowling Green on Saturday. BSU ended the 1999 season with 17 straight wins at home. In Randy Litchfield's tenure, BSU has posted a 121-26 record (.830 winning percentage) in Muncie and are 100-15 (.870) in Worthen Arena.