Three MAC volleyball teams came away with tournament titles in the second weekend of the season. Ball State won its own tournament, defeating Florida State, while Bowling Green and Ohio also captured titles. The Falcons won Central Florida's tournament, while the Bobcats won Valparaiso's Popcorn Classic.
Inside a raucous Worthen Arena, BSU extended its homecourt winning streak to 21 straight matches with a thrilling 15-8, 13-15, 15-11, 15-7 victory over Florida State. The win improved Ball State to 5-2 overall, while the loss dropped Florida State to 7-1. The victory also capped a successful week for the Cardinals, who posted a 4-0 record for the week and the BSU Holiday Inn Express/Nike Challenge championship.
"I really feel that this is the kind of win thats big for us now, but will pay dividends later in the season," said BSU head coach Randy Litchfield after the match. "Florida State
is a real good team now and is only going to get better as the season progresses. They quite possibly could be an Atlantic Coast Conference championship team. This was a great win for our program and the Mid-American Conference."
For the third straight match, four Cardinals reached double -figure kills en route to BSU hitting .309 for the match. Katie Butts and Julie Zylka paced the offense Saturday with 24 kills each. Megan Hammons added 21 kills, while Susie Meshberger provided 14 kills. Emily Sallee, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Performer, handed out 76 assists.
"Emily had the best setting weekend of her career and thats a bold statement because shes had a lot of great performances over the years," Litchfield said. "Her numbers
speak for themselves. We had three players with 20-or-more kills and we hit .309 as a team, thats distributing the ball. She was awesome the weekend."
At Valparaiso, Ohio (5-3) won the Popcorn Classic after the host school dropped its final match of the tournament to Kent State, averting a three-way tie with Western Kentucky and Valparaiso with identical 3-1 records.
Amber Merrill recorded 27 kills and a .388 hitting percentage against WKU, while
Kris Whitfield (17), Laura Hageman (16) and Lori McColl (16) added double-figure kills. Michelle Gil tallied 67 assists and 19 digs, both team highs.
Merrill, who set the Ohio single-season kills record last year, moved into third place on the school's all-time list with a pair of kills early in the game. She was named the tournament MVP. Gil also earned all-tournament honors.
For Bowling Green, juniors Caty Rommeck and Shyann Robinson had 13 and 11 kills, respectively in the three-game win over Florida International. Defensively, freshman Susie Norris had 11 digs in the victory. Norris has led the team in digs in five of her first six collegiate matches.
There was no all-tournament team chosen at the UCF Fall Invitational.
The Falcons of head coach Denise Van De Walle have won four consecutive matches after starting the season with two losses.