Akron -- The University of Akron volleyball team will take to the road for its final non-conference tournament of the season, traveling to Smithfield R.I. for the Hampton Invitational hosted by Bryant University Sept. 14-15. The Zips will face three teams that are brand new to the program's opponent history, two of which have just recently obtained Division I status -- Holy Cross, Northern Kentucky and host Bryant. Akron will open the tournament with a doubleheader on Friday at 6 and 8 p.m. ET against Holy Cross and Bryant, followed by a single match on Saturday against Northern Kentucky at 5 p.m. ET. Middle blocker Tina Dimitrijevs was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Co-Player of the Week, the league office announced Tuesday. Dimitrijevs was Akron's anchor over last weekend, commanding the Zips' offense in three hard-fought wins over SIU Edwardsville, Binghamton and Youngstown State, en route to the Zips Invitational championship title. The tournament's Most Valuable Player, she recorded a higher attack percentage than all three of UA's opponents, hitting a cumulative .442 for the tournament and averaging 3.42 kills per set. Her .647 clip in the win against SIUE is the program's season high for players with 12 or more kills in a match.
Ball State -- The Ball State women's volleyball team returns to Worthen Arena this weekend for the Ball State Tournament ... BSU opens the two-day event Friday versus Pittsburgh (7 p.m.) ... Saturday, the Cardinals will battle both Wright State (11 a.m.) and Wyoming (7 p.m.)... Ball State enters its second home tournament of the season with a 4-6 overall record ... Last weekend the Cardinals posted an 0-3 record at the Northern Colorado Classic with losses to Creighton (0-3), Northern Colorado (1-3) and Tulsa (1-3) ... Kara Bates leads the Ball State attack with a 3.86 kills-per-set average, while Kylee Baker is second among BSU's starters at 2.25 ... Jacqui Seidel has set the Ball State offense to a .207 hitting percentage this season, having collecting assist/dig double-doubles in six of BSU's 10 matches ... Catie Fredrich paces the BSU backcourt and the Mid-American Conference with a 5.26 digs-per-set average ... As a team, Ball State is limiting its opponents to a .192 hitting mark.
Bowling Green -- Bowling Green closes out its pre-conference schedule this weekend by competing at the Active Ankle Challenge, hosted by Purdue. While Purdue typically plays in Holloway Gymnasium, this tournament will take place in Mackey Arena. The Falcons will face 5-6 Alabama Birmingham Friday at noon and will face 6-5 Jacksonville State at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Falcons will face No. 14 Purdue, at 6-2 on the year, in the final match of the tournament at 7 p.m. BGSU is just 2-6 on the year but those six losses have come against teams that are a combined 45-11 on the season. In the team’s first three matches, BGSU had 28 fewer digs than its opponents, but the Falcons have worked hard to improve in that area and it paid off at the BYU Nike Invitational. Bowling Green had more digs than its opponents in all three matches during the past weekend and peaked with 95 digs against Utah, 18 more than the Utes. Since being held without an ace in the season-opener against Marquette, junior Paige Penrod has posted double-digit ace totals in seven consecutive matches. Penrod ranks second in the MAC in that statistic and had a season-high four against Georgia Tech. Her 16 aces this year give her 74 for her career, putting her 24 away from Wendy Watkins to move into the top 10 in BGSU history.
Buffalo -- Buffalo will enter the weekend with a 3-6 record, after dropping the last two matches to Oakland and Eastern Kentucky. Sophomore Liz Scott is at the helm of the Bulls offense, leading the team with 107 kills.
Central Michigan -- With the tournament portion of its schedule behind it, the Central Michigan volleyball program returns home for the first of four-straight matches inside McGuirk Arena this Saturday when it hosts IPFW. The match will be the fifth meeting all-time versus the Mastodons and will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday's match marks the first of four straight inside the friendly confines of McGuirk Arena for the Chippewas. CMU won its only home contest of the season earlier this month when it took down Oakland, 3-1, in front of a crowd of 663. Following the match with the Mastodons, the Chippewas will open MAC play with matches versus Northern Illinois (Sept. 21), Western Michigan (Sept. 22) and Eastern Michigan (Sept. 27). Many say that defense wins championships and the Maroon and Gold have put their defensive prowess on display over the first three weeks of the season. Entering this weekend's match, the Chippewas rank first among all MAC schools with an opponent hitting percentage of .163. CMU ranks fourth on the flip side of things, having recorded a .218 hitting percentage through its first 10 matches.
Eastern Michigan -- The Eastern Michign University volleyball team travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. for the 2012 Coke/Michigan Invitational, hosted by the University of Michigan. Eastern opens up the tournament with a double-header, Friday, Sept. 14. EMU starts with the host Wolverines at 11 a.m. and a Friday evening match against Duke at 5:30 p.m. The Eagles conclude this weekend's action with a match Saturday, Sept. 15. EMU will face Western Kentucky at 4 p.m. The Eastern Michigan University volleyball squad has been on fire to start the 2012 campaign, winning 10 of its first 12 matches, including winning the Mean Green Invitational last weekend. The Eagles are 10-1 in tournament matches this season and look to stay hot at the Coke/Michigan Invitational this weekend. Senior outside hitter, Rachel Iaquaniello, became one of the most decorated volleyball players in Eastern Michigan University history over the weekend when she took over the top-spot for career kills and career attack attempts. The Plymouth, Mich. native came into the tournament 12 kills behind Roxanne Munch's all-time kill record of 1,537. With the Eagles leading Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sept. 7, 24-23 in the third set, Iaquaniello finished off the Islanders with her 13th kill of the match giving her 1,538 for her career, one ahead of Munch's 23-year old record which was set in 1989. That wasn't the only record Iaquaniello broke on the afternoon, as Iaquaniello's 37 attacks against the Islanders gave her 4,466 career attacks, moving her ahead of previous record holder Jennifer Nighswander. Iaquaniello now has 1,601 kills in her career and 4,666 attack attempts.
Kent State -- The Kent State volleyball team looks to head into conference play on a high note with three non-conference matches this weekend (Sept. 14-15) as part of the Butler Invitational in Indianapolis, Ind. The Golden Flashes (3-6) begin the weekend against UC Davis at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by a pair of matches on Saturday. A morning match against Southeast Missouri State at 11 a.m. will get the day started, and the Flashes will end the weekend in the finale of the invitational against host Butler at 6 p.m. Sophomore outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola (Ellicott City, Md.) made it two weeks in a row being named to the all-tournament team at last weekend's Kent State Mizuno Classic. Aderemi-Ibitola led the Golden Flashes in kills (42), kills per set (3.82) and hitting percentage (.376) over the weekend and posted a career-high 22 kills against Liberty. On the season, she leads the team in kills (105), ranks second in kills per set (3.28), and is tied for second in digs per set (1.97). Junior setter Aleksandra Nowak (Damnica, Poland) surpassed Jenny Keck for fifth on Kent State's all-time assists record over the weekend and now has 1,870 for her career. Nowak recorded a season-high 60 assists against Liberty. She is the Flashes' leader in assists per set (9.72) and is tied for second in digs per set (1.97) on the season. Freshman outside hitter Kelly Hutchison (Columbus, Ohio) is the top hitter on the team so far this season at 3.29 kills per set. Hutchison equaled her career-high with 19 kill against Liberty last weekend. Junior defensive specialist/libero Hannah Herc (Eden, N.Y.) leads the way with a team-best 3.38 digs per set on the season. Herc was one dig shy of matching her career-best against Liberty, posting 20 in the match. Senior middle blocker Kathy Krupa (Burbank, Ill.) is coming off her best weekend of the season. Krupa tallied 1.91 kills per set and 1.18 blocks per set during the three matches. She is tied with sophomore middle blocker Liz Reikow (Holland, Mich.) for the team lead in total blocks on the season (0.88).
Miami -- Mid-American Conference play is only one week away, so the Miami University volleyball team will prepare with one final early-season tournament. The RedHawks head to Bloomington, Ind. for the Hoosier Classic. On Friday, Miami take on Chattanooga at 5 p.m. The Red and White will then have two matches on Saturday, facing Valparaiso at 10 a.m. and the host, Indiana, at 7 p.m. Junior libero Madison Hardy recorded 41 digs at the Miami Best Western/Sycamore Inn Invitational this past weekend to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. As a result, she now has 973 career digs, and needs only 27 this weekend to become the third libero and 13th Miami volleyball player to reach the 1000-dig mark. One of the main reasons the RedHawks were able to win their home invitational was a renewed commitment to their blocking game. Miami averaged 2.92 blocks per set at the tournament, led by tournament MVP Sarah Chaney who recorded 14 block assists, an average of 1.17 per set. The 'Hawks have averaged 2.05 blocks per set in all matches this season.
Northern Illinois -- The Northern Illinois volleyball team hits the last leg of the non-conference portion of its 14-match road trip this weekend. The Huskies (7-6) will travel to Edwardsville, Ill. to face SIUE (4-5) Friday at 6 PM CT and then go to Peoria, Ill. for Bradley's CEFCU Classic. NIU will take on Long Beach State (3-5) at 11 AM Saturday and 3.5 hours later Bradley (6-3) at 3:30 PM. As a team, the Huskies rank second in the MAC in opponent hitting percentage (.164) and digs (16.96/set), which is also good for 52nd in the nation. Individually, Amber Walker is fourth in digs (4.72/set), Mary Kurisch is fourth in blocks (1.02/set), Meghan Romo is sixth in kills (3.35/set), Alexis Gonzalez is seventh in assists (9.59/set) and 10th in aces (0.29/set). On Tuesday, the Mid-American Conference announced its Players of the Week and the Huskies swept the West Division's honors as Sarah Angelos was named Offensive Player of the Week and Amber Walker was named Defensive Player of the Week. Earning the honor for the first time in her career, Angelos hit .413 with a 3.00 kills per set average and 12 blocks and was named MVP after NIU's 4-0, first-place finish at the Missouri State Invite. Walker, who's earned the honor twice now, was named to Missouri State Invitational All-Tournament Team as well after recording 5.42 digs per game, including a career-high 33-dig effort against MSU.
Ohio -- Ohio Volleyball hits the road for the first time in three weeks having swept four of its last five opponents. The Bobcats play at UNC Greensboro on Thursday night before taking a day off to prepare for two one-loss ACC foes in North Carolina and NC State. Ryan Theis earned his 100th win at Ohio as the Bobcats swept through their own tournament with straight-set victories over Belmont, Niagara and Montana State. Kelly Lamberti was named MVP and Lexie Hartnett was named to the All-Tournament team. Lamberti led the team in kills, points and aces while Hartnett also had a strong weekend for the `Cats, leading the team with 11 blocks and hitting .333 (average eight kills per match). The Green and White lead the league with an average of 2.65 blocks per set. That average puts them 32nd nationally, almost a full 100 spots ahead of the next closest MAC school (Buffalo at 123, 2.1). Serena Warner is second in the league and 20th nationally in blocks per set and Lexie Hartnett also ranks among the top five in the league. Offensively, the Bobcats are third in the MAC in hitting percentage with an average of .225. Warner, the top Bobcat with a .302 hitting percentage, ranks fifth in the league. Kelly Lamberti is second in the MAC in kills and points and third in aces. Freshman Meredith Ashy has started strong for Ohio, earning all-tournament honors at the Flyer Classic earlier this season. Her average of 4.52 digs per set ranks fourth in the MAC. Teammate Abby Gilleland also ranks among the league leaders in assists with an average of 8.72 per set.
Toledo -- Toledo concludes its pre-conference slate this weekend when it travels to Winston-Salem, NC for Wake Forest's Black & Gold Challenge. The Rockets open the tournament on Friday, Sept. 14 against the host Demon Deacons before facing Appalachian State and Campbell on Saturday, Sept. 15. The Rockets (4-5) will be looking to build on its momentum from winning two of three matches at last weekend's Rocket Classic. UT posted 3-1 victories over Memphis and Florida Gulf Coast but lost to tournament champion Illinois State by a 3-1 margin. Senior OH Sondra Parys and senior libero McCall Paynter earned all-tournament team honors for Toledo. Parys led Toledo with 3.12 kills per set and posted a .264 attack percentage, while Paynter tallied a team-high 4.25 digs per set. Junior Adria Pryor and freshman Alex Hines entered the 2012 campaign battling for the Rockets' starting setter job. After splitting setting duties in UT's opening weekend, Pryor has emerged as the team's primary setter and is averaging 9.19 assists and 2.00 digs per set. Toledo's starting setter the last four years was three-time second-team All-MAC honoree Kassie Kadera, who finished her Rocket career ranked second with 4,853 assists.
Western Michigan -- This will be the second meeting between WMU and Saint Louis, with the Broncos trailing 0-1 in the all-time series. This will be the second meeting between WMU and Delaware, with the Broncos holding a 1-0 edge in the series. This will be the 15th meeting between WMU and Northwestern, with the Broncos owning an 8-6 edge in the all-time series. The Broncos will play seven of their first 12 matches against teams that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament; nine of their 14 non-conference matches are against foes that went to the Big Dance in 2011. Jessica Brown ranks eighth on the career kills list at Western Michigan, and needs 10 more kills to pass Shaylen Jackson for seventh on the list. Terin Norris was named to the All-Tournament team at the Carolina Volleyball Classic, and ranks first in the MAC and eighth in the nation in assists. The Broncos lead all MAC schools in kills and assists in 2012. Freshman Caroline Rose has recorded 10 or more digs in four of her last seven matches. Ali Gossen is averaging a career-best 2.94 kills/set through non-conference play. Stephenee Yancy has recorded 14 blocks in just 15 sets for an average of 0.93 blocks/set. Carlee Berland set a new career-high with 14 kills against LSU. WMU is 5-1 in matches which they record 5.0 total team blocks or more. WMU is 57-30 (.655) in preseason non-conference tournaments under Colleen Munson.