MAC Volleyball Races Coming Down To The Very End -- Week 11 Notes

Updated 11/6/2000
FOUR TEAMS QUALIFY FOR TOURNEY:
Three MAC West Division teams and one East Division squad solidified berths for the conference tournament over the weekend, which begins with quarterfinal contests on campus sites on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Ball State, Western Michigan, Ohio and Northern Illinois all captured spots in the MAC Tournament, with the Cardinals and Broncos also clinching home court matches in the opening round. The final four slots in the tournament field can be determined this weekend, depending on the outcome of a couple of matches.

WMU'S WIN STREAK UP TO 12 IN A ROW:
Western Michigan's win streak increased to 12 straight with wins last weekend over Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. The Broncos have won their last 19 games and have dropped only four games during the 12-match win streak. The Broncos, who last lost to Ball State on Sept. 23, remain tied in the loss column with the Cardinals in the West Division, though BSU has played one more match than WMU. Western Michigan faces Toledo and Central Michigan on the road this weekend, then comes home to host Ball State and Northern Illinois in the final weekend of the regular season.

OHIO CLINCHES SECOND-EVER BID:
Despite its Friday loss, the Ohio Bobcats clinched a spot in the MAC Tournament because Eastern Michigan, Miami and Toledo also fell the same evening. The appearance is only the second in the last 20 years (15 tournaments). The only other time Ohio earned a spot in the postseason was 1998 (pool play was used the first two years, 1980 and 1981). Ohio still holds a slim lead in the East Division and can wrap up the title with a victory Saturday over Bowling Green. That could also give the Bobcats a home date in the opening round of the tournament, pending the outcome of the Ball State at Central Michigan match Friday.

AN OMEN FOR NORTHERN ILLINOIS?:
With last Tuesday's victory over Illinois-Chicago, the 2000 version of the Northern Illinois volleyball program became the 16th squad in school history to reach the 20-win plateau. The last three Huskie squads to accomplish the feat (1998-27 wins, 1997-27 wins, and 1996-27 wins) all advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

6,000 ASSISTS AND COUNTING:
Ball State senior setter Emily Sallee, who became the MAC's career all-time assists leader on Oct. 20, became only the 11th setter in NCAA Division I history to amass 6,000 assists. The reigning MAC Player of the Year accomplished the feat in last Friday's win against Eastern Michigan. With 6,044 career assists, Sallee is tied for ninth with former Virginia setter Mary Frances Scott and is nine away from moving into seventh.

KARR IS MOTORING:
Miami junior outside hitter Lee Ann Karr led the RedHawks in both of their weekend matches. She notched a match-high 18 kills in a four-game match with Akron and also led Miami with 12 kills in a three-game win over Buffalo. Karr posted six blocks over the weekend and had a .423 hitting percentage against the Bulls and a .366 hitting percentage against the Zips.

NEXT IN LINE FOR CENTURY MARKS:
Kent State senior Carrie McEnery has inched closer to the prestigious 1,000 kill-1,000 dig mark for her career. McEnery had 22 kills and 35 digs in the two victories during the week. For her career she now has 979 kills and 975 digs. McEnery will become just the second Kent State volleyball player ever to achieve this mark. McEnery is currently eighth in the MAC in digs per game (3.13) and is also tied for seventh in aces per game (0.37).

ITS MERRILL EVERYWHERE:
With 32 kills over the weekend, Ohio's Amber Merrill is once again ranked among the program's top five for kills in a season. She now has 446 this year, the fourth most in school history. She already holds the No. 1 (464) and No. 3 (451) marks on the list. Merrill, who has 1,435 career kills, is also 104 kills shy of equaling Lori Dyer (1539) as the school's all-time kill leader.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT FOR EMU:
Eastern Michigan freshman Kristie Price has tallied 75 block assists on the season to lead the Eagles. That ranks her 11th for a single-season performance. She is eight shy of 83, which is the highest total for a freshman in EMU history (done by EMU's all-time leader Jill Hutton). She is 23 shy of making the career list at 98, which would rank her 12th all-time. Last Wednesday, Price had 10 total blocks versus rival Central Michigan, and finished the match one dig shy of a triple-double.

A DIG FEST FOR AKRON AND KENT STATE:
In the five-game win over Akron last Saturday, Kent State had seven individuals with 10 or more digs. For the match the two teams combined for 229 digs. KSU group was led by seniors Carrie McEnery and Katie Leaf, who each had 20 digs. Freshman Tarrin Pelton had a career-high 19 digs while Chantel Vineyard added 17, Shiva Davis and Stephanie Doran each had 14 and Sarah Kutschinski had 11.
Akron, meanwhile, had four players with 10-plus digs including three with 20-plus. Zip freshman Sandy Lewis led all players with a carer-high 30 digs, with Ashlie Case and Miranda Valentine each picking up 23. Ashley Lewis added 15 digs also for Akron.

THATS THE TICKET FOR THE BRONCOS:
Western Michigan's matches versus Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan drew the top two crowds of the year for home contests in the MAC this season. WMU drew 1,083 fans to Fridays matchup versus CMU to establish a season best. Saturdays crowd of 1,159 topped that total and gave the Broncos a weekend total of 2,242 fans, an average of 1,121 per match. Western Michigan is now averaging 824 fans at home matches this season.

STREAK OF 20-WINS AT NINE STRAIGHT:
For the ninth straight season, Ball State has picked up at least 20 wins, following the Cardinals' win over Eastern Michigan last Friday. 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.

MATIKOSH SPARKS BUFFALO:
Freshman Lindsay Matikosh was the bright spot for Buffalo last week, posting double digits in kills in all three of the Bulls matches. She had 13 kills and six digs versus Cornell, 14 kills and 18 digs against Ohio and 14 kills and eight digs against Miami.

REMAINING CONSISTENT LATE IN YEAR:
After starting the MAC portion of its schedule dropping five of its first seven, Bowling Green has turned the tables by winning seven of its last eight. The Falcons, with an overall record of 16-8 and a MAC mark of 9-6, are four wins shy of winning 20 matches in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992-93, when BGSU accomplished the feat four consecutive years (1990-93). The Falcons have five regular season matches remaining to nab the mark, three against league foes -- Miami, Ohio and Buffalo -- and two non-conference contests -- Oakland and Cleveland State.

CMUS YOUNG IS ON THE ATTACK:
Central Michigan sophomore Jenny Young continues to pound out kills for the Chippewas. She totaled 50 this past week while averaging 5.0 per game. Her season average is now 3.98 kills per game and it climbs to 4.34 in MAC action. After recording 291 kills as a freshman, Young has already amassed 374 this season. She already has 650 career kills in her less-than-two-year career, which ranks in the top 20 in the MACs active leaders.

PRESEASON POLL REVISITED:
Below is a comparison of the leagues preseason poll, which was released back in August, in relation to where the teams stand with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

East Division - Pick - +/-
Ohio - 6th - +5
Bowling Green - T4th - +2
Akron - 2nd - -1
Kent State - 3rd - -1
Miami - 1st - -4
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 - -2

ITS BEEN A WHILE FOR KENT STATE:
Kent State ran its win steak to a season-high four straight matches, all MAC contests. This is the first time the Golden Flashes have won four straight matches since they opened the 1998 season 4-0. The last time the Golden Flashes won five straight league contests was in 1997, when they finished second in the MAC East with a 10-6 mark.

BOWMAN IS MOVIN ON UP:
Northern Illinois freshman setter Jenny Bowman continues to hand out assists at an impressive rate this season. With 1,430 assists, Bowman is currently 4th on the school's single season assist list despite having at least four more matches yet to play. Her 2000 assist numbers are also good enough to place the Minnesota native sixth on NIU's all-time assist chart.

LEWIS ON A RAMPAGE FOR AKRON:
Akron freshman Sandy Lewis has been on a hot streak of late for the Zips. Lewis had a career-high 30 digs versus Kent State last Saturday to go with 18 kills and has seven kill-dig double-doubles in her last nine matches. She also dropped in a career-high five aces versus Miami the night before.

MAC PLACES TWO IN REGION RANKINGS:
In the third NCAA regional rankings released Oct. 18, two MAC schools were named in the Mideast Region. Western Michigan was seventh, while Ball State was eighth. The final regional ranking will be announced on Nov. 15.

NCAA Division I Womens Volleyball
Mideast Rankings (Nov. 1)
School -- Overall
1.Wisconsin -- 21-2
2. Minnesota -- 21-1
3.Ohio State -- 20-2
4.Penn State -- 20-4
5.Iowa -- 11-9
6.Michigan State -- 13-8
7.Western Michigan -- 16-5
8.Ball State -- 18-4
9.Fairfield -- 19-5
10.Indiana -- 13-9

SHARING THE WEALTH:
In 23 matches so far this season, Western Michigan has had three or players record 10 or more kills in a single contest a total of 14 times. Three Broncos have reached double figures in kills in the same match six times while four players have accomplished that feat on seven occasions. Angie Sillmon, Alberta Griffin, Monyka Paul, Zakiya Pope, and MMyia McQuirter all totaled 10 or more versus Eastern Kentucky Sept. 2

BSU'S HOME STREAK CONTINUES:
Ball State increased its home winning streak to 30-straight following wins over Miami, Eastern Michigan and Toledo last weekend. BSU won all 13 home contests this year and ended the 1999 season with 17 straight wins at home, and the Cardinals will have to wait for the MAC Quarterfinals in an attempt to extend the streak. The Cardinals current streak is the third-longest active one in Division I, trailing Colorado States 42 consecutive victories and Northern Iowas 32.

THE HERD'S DIGGING MACHINES:
Marshall nearly haunted Akron on Halloween by pulling an upset in Huntington. The Herd, who lost a tough four-game loss to the Zips, did plenty of digging in the contests as six players netted double digits in digs. Junior Kristin Bailey led all players with a match-high 24 digs, while Nora Keithly added 16 and Andrea Kastein chipped in 13. Also racking up double digits in digs were Jodi Fick and Ashley Barnard (12 each) and Wendy Williams (11).