WMU'S WIN STREAK UP TO 10 IN A ROW:
Western Michigan's win streak increased to 10 straight with wins last weekend over Buffalo and Northern Illinois. The Broncos finished a perfect 8-0 in the month of October this year and are 19-0 during that month over the past two seasons.
The Broncos, who last lost to Ball State on Sept. 23, remain in a tie for first place with the Cardinals with 11-1 marks in the West Division. WMU hosts Central Michigan on Friday and Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
PLAYOFF BERTHS COULD BE EARNED:
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, a number of schools could earn berths this week to next months MAC Tournament, which begins on Tues., Nov. 21 on campus sites and the semifinal and championship matches set for the weekend of Nov. 24-26. Ball State could become the first to qualify with a win over Miami on Wednesday, while Western Michigan and Ohio will also solidify spots with victories on Friday.
STREAK OF 20-WIN SEASONS IS TWO AWAY:
BSU is two wins away from its ninth straight 20-win season. Ball State posted an eighth straight 20-win season for the first time in school history in 1999 . Stringing together as many as eight 20-win seasons had happened only one other time in the history of the MAC. Western Michigan did it nine times from 1979 through 1987, though the conference didnt begin to sponsor volleyball until 1980.
CMUS SENIOR LEADERSHIP:
A pair of seniors led Central Michigan to a 3-1 win over East Division-leading Ohio last Friday. Jennifer Mitchell returned after missing three matches with a sprained ankle to post a 20-20 match with 20 kills and 20 digs. She also had a pair of blocks and an ace. Setter Jessica Rocho had a career night with 69 assists and 32 digs, both career highs. The 32 digs are the second most recorded by a MAC player this season.
SALLEE NEARING SELECT GROUP:
Ball State senior setter Emily Sallee, who became the MAC's career all-time assists leader on Oct. 20, is closing in on moving into a very select group of setters. Entering play this week, Sallee has 5,910 assists which is 16th in NCAA Division I history. She is 90 assists from becoming only the 11th player in NCAA Division I history to amass 6,000 assists. Sallee is also on pace to shatter the NCAA assists per game average for a career. Her current average of 13.78 is well ahead of the current record of 13.26 held by Cal State Sacramentos Maureen Rafferty.
Miami sophomore outside hitter Amy Pfohl produced one of the best matches of her young career against Marshall. Pfohl led the team with a career-best 19 kills. She also notched nine digs and one service ace for the Red and White. Against Northern Illinois, Pfohl came into the second game and served up a critical ace to pull Miami to within one of the Huskies, 12-13. NIU went on to take the match in three games.
MAC COACHING MILESTONES:
One MAC head coach reached a milestone last weekend, while another is closing in on one. Miami's Carolyn Condit became the first coach in MAC history to reach 175 conference victories with a triumph over Marshall, while Ball States Randy Litchfield is one win from 250 for his career.
NEARING ELITE GROUP, PART TWO:
Northern Illinois senior Mandy Swick is nearing another milestone in her career. Swick is currently 57 digs shy of becoming the 8th Huskie to record 1,000 digs in a career. Furthermore, if Swick reaches the plateau, she will become only the 5th player in NIU history to record 1,000 digs and 1,000 kills in a career. Swick already has 1,210 kills.
WMUS 15-YEAR ITCH AT NIU ENDS:
The last time Western Michigan won at Northern Illinois prior to Saturday was 1985. The Broncos had lost four straight at NIUs Evans Fieldhouse. Senior Alberta Griffin was six years old the last time the Broncos won in DeKalb but came up big Saturday. Griffin finished with 15 kills and 14 digs, both match highs, as well as a .379 (15-4-29) hitting percentage in the win. Monyka Paul added 10 kills and a .368 (10-3-19) attack rate. Sophomore setter Ashley Ritter assisted on 42 kills, made 11 digs, and totaled six kills in seven tries with no errors (.857). Ritter's efforts also helped Western Michigan post a .346 (52-16-104) team hitting percentage against the Huskies.
PRESEASON POLL REVISITED:
Below is a comparison of the league's preseason poll, which was released back in August, in relation to where the teams stand with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
East Division - Pick - +/-
Ohio - 6th - +5
Bowling Green - T4th - +2
Akron - 2nd - -1
Miami - 1st - -3
Kent State - 3rd - -2
Marshall - T4th - -2
Buffalo - 7th - even
West Division - Pick - +/-
Ball State - 1st - even
Western Michigan - 2nd - +1
Northern Illinois - 3rd - even
Central Michigan - 6th - +2
Toledo - 5th - even
Eastern Michigan - 4th - -1
BALANCED ATTACK FOR KENT STATE:
Contributions have come from all Kent State players this season. Five players average 2.00 or more kills per game, six players average 1.50 or more digs per game and three players average 0.50 or more blocks per game. The Golden Flashes are led in kills by junior Sarah Kutschinski, who has a career-high 252 kills (3.15 kpg) while sophomore Jennifer Dreyer has 235 kills (2.70 kpg). Senior Carrie McEnery leads the team in digs with 259 (3.05 dpg) and junior Stephanie Doran has added 181 digs (2.10 dpg). Dreyer also leads the team in blocks with 66 (0.76 bpg) and senior Shiva Davis is second with 60 (0.75 bpg).
NORRIS CLOSING IN ON TOP-10:
Bowling Green freshman Susie Norris, who leads the MAC with 347 digs and a 4.23 per game average, is 12 digs away from reaching the top-10 in Falcon history. The school record of 455, set by Holli Costein in 1992, is also within reach as is the single season mark for digs per game of 3.80, which is held by Jo Lynn Williamson. Norris had 28 digs in BGSU's win over Akron on Saturday, which was one dig short of the school record for digs in a four-game match She has seven matches of 20-plus digs, including a career-best 30 versus Cincinnati.
YOUNGSTERS SHINE FOR HERD:
Marshall nearly pulled off a win at Miami last Saturday after being down two games, and has its youngsters to thank. Freshman Tracey King had a team-high 18 kills and 14 digs versus the RedHakws, while sophomore Jodi Fick added 17 kills and a match-high 22 digs. In addition, sophomore Sara Boyles had 12 digs.
UB WILL ENJOY SOME HOME COOKING:
After playing 17 of its first 24 matches away from home, Buffalo will be back at home for better part of the final couple weeks of the regular season. The Bulls play seven of their final eight matches of the season at home, battling Ohio, Miami, Akron, Marshall, Bowling Green, and non-conference foes Cornell and Syracuse. UBs lone road contest is at Stony Brook.
MAC PLACES TWO IN REGION RANKINGS:
In the second NCAA regional rankings released Oct. 18, three MAC schools were named in the Mideast Region. Ball State was tabbed sixth, while Western Michigan was eighth and Ohio was tenth. The next regional rankings will be announced on Nov. 1.
NCAA Division I Womens Volleyball
Mideast Rankings (Oct . 18)
School - Overall
1.Wisconsin - 17-2
2.Ohio State - 17-1
3. Minnesota - 18-1
4.Penn State - 16-4
5.Michigan State - 12-5
6.Ball State - 16-3
7.Michigan - 12-6
8.Western Michigan - 12-5
9.Fairfield - 14-5
10.Ohio - 14-6
SCHAUB SERVING IT UP FOR EMU:
Eastern Michigans Sara Schaub has served up 46 aces this year to move her into the top 10 in that career category. Coming into this season, the senior outside hitter tallied just 61 in her first three seasons. Not only does the 107 career aces rank her eighth all-time in EMU history, the six versus Toledo is also the eighth all-time best single match performance in one match. In addition, her total this season is sixth in EMU annals.
RETURNING TO FRESHMAN FORM:
A member of the 1999 MAC's All-Freshman Team, Toledo sophomore Jessica Buck is beginning to heat up after a slow start to the season. She has a .397 attack percentage (71-15-141) over her last five matches to raise her overall season attack percentage to .251 (.271 in the MAC). She has a pair of matches with 20 kills and is also averaging nearly four kills per game (3.94) over that stretch.
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD FOR THE CHIPS:
Central Michigan went 6-2 in the month of October but it faces a tough road in November as the MAC Tournament approaches. Five of their seven matches are against the West Division's top three teams with home-and-home meetings coming against both Western Michigan and Northern Illinois and a single home match against Ball State.
WIN TOTAL NEARING RECORD FOR OHIO:
The Bobcats posted their 17th win of the season on Saturday, marking the fourth-highest total in the 27-year history of the program. Ohio won 21 in 1995, 20 in 1998, 18 in 1976 and 16 in 1996. The 10 conference wins is the second-highest total in school history. The Bobcats won 12 two years ago.
BSUS HOME STREAK CONTINUES:
Ball State increased its home winning streak to 27-straight following a win over Marshall last Friday. BSU has won all 10 home contests this year and ended the 1999 season with 17 straight wins at home. The Cardinals current streak is the second-longest active one in Division I, trailing Colorado States 40 consecutive victories. The Cardinals close out the regular season home slate of their schedule with three home contests this week. BSU hosts Miami on Wednesday, Eastern Michigan on Friday and Toledo on Saturday.
SILLMONS BLOCK PARTY CONTINUES:
Western Michigan sophomore middle blocker Angie Sillmon has been on a roll as of late. She made seven blocks at Northern Illinois Saturday to lead WMU, the eighth time this season she has paced the squad in blocks. The sophomore owns the top two single-match blocking effort by a Bronco this season with nine versus Akron (Oct. 21) and seven at NIU. Sillmon has totaled 19 blocks in the Broncos last three matches and 38 (1.31 bpg.) during WMUs 10-match unbeaten stretch, second only to Zakiya Pope.
FRESHMAN CONTINUES TO SHINE:
Miami freshman middle hitter Jessica Rayburg continues her impact in the Miami lineup. Rayburg led the Red and White against Northern Illinois last week with 10 kills, a .529 hitting percentage and three blocks. Against Marshall, she produced two blocks (one solo and one assist) and added a .417 hitting percentage with six kills in 12 attempts and only one error. She had only two hitting errors in eight games last week.
FLASHES PICK UP PAIR OF MAC WINS:
Kent State won back-to-back matches for the first time this year in the five-game victory over Bowling Green and the four-set win over Buffalo over the weekend. The win over Bowling Green was the first over
the Falcons since Nov. 8, 1997 when they beat them 3-2. Kent State has now three straight matches over the Bulls. Shiva Davis had a career-high 24 kills versus the Falcons and also hit a career-best .444.
AKRON BEGINS CRUCIAL STRETCH:
Akron will begin a critical stretch of the MAC schedule this week with four straight on the road, beginning at Marshall on Tuesday. The Zips will then face Miami and Kent State on Friday and Saturday, before battling Buffalo a week from Friday. Akron does have a winning road record, one of only two schools to have one in the East Division.
SHIELS CLOSING IN ON 900 KILLS:
Buffalo junior Keri Shiels is 56 kills short of 900 for her carer, following play this weekend. Shiels had 14 in a four-game loss to Kent State to go with 18 digs. She is also 26 digs away from 800.