1998 Mid-American Conference Volleyball Championship

Updated 12/1/1998

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, November 24 at Campus Sites
#1 Miami def #8 Central Michigan 11-15, 15-5, 15-6, 15-7
#2 Ball State def #7 Marshall 15-1, 15-13, 15-10
#3 Northern Illinois def #6 Western Michigan 15-10, 16-14, 15-10
#4 Akron def #5 Ohio 15-13, 15-2, 13-15, 15-7

Semifinals*

Friday, November 27
Northern Illinois def Ball State 15-9, 15-11, 14-16, 15-9
Miami def Akron 15-3, 9-15, 15-9, 15-5

Finals*

Saturday, November 28
Miami def Northern Illinois 15-8, 15-5, 15-3
*at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

MAC Notes

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Miami and Northern Illinois received bids into the 1998 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. Miami received an automatic bid after capturing the MAC Tournament Championship on Saturday night, while Northern Illinois received an at-large bid. Miami heads to Honolulu, Hawaii in the first round. Miami will face Nevada (22-6). Hawaii (29-2) and Brown (23-8) will play the other game. The winners will face each other in Hawaii on December 6.

Northern Illinois (26-6) will play Florida State (25-10) in the first round in Louisville, Kentucky on December 4. Host school Louisville (27-4) faces American (29-5) in the other match. The two winners will square off on December 5 in Louisville.

1998 MAC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM:

Kim Branam, Akron
Megan Hammons, Ball State
Julie Sterk, Miami
Alissia Thompson, Miami
Amber Howard, Northern Illinois
Tamara Stutheit, Northern Illinois

Most-Valuable Player: Alissia Thompson, Miami

THE ZIPS ARE SET UP: Akron junior setter Kim Schaper finished the season with 1,325 assists, tying her for fifth in school history. Her 12.9 assists per game breaks her own school record of 12.1 apg set last year. Schaper now has 4,121 career assists, which is 748 assists behind Patti Godzinski (1992-1995) who has 4,869. Schaper, in three seasons, has three out of the top four spots for assists in a season. In 1998, Schaper had eight matches with at least 60 assists, including a season high 73 vs. Buffalo on October 3, led the team in assists, and ranked third on the team in digs and block average.

MCDIGITT: Sophomore outside hitter Julie McDivitt's 4.9 dig-per-game average places her among the national leaders and ranks second in school history. McDivitt totaled 487 digs for the season, which ranks her eighth in school history. She recorded double-digit digs in 24 out of the 29 matches, including a school record 43 digs against Miami on November 18. McDivitt also led the team in service aces (22) and was second in kills (322/3.2 kpg).

DIAPER DANDIES: True freshmen Ashlie Case and Miranda Valentine made an immediate impact on the Akron Zips. Case ranked third on the team in kills (304/3.3 kpg) and second in digs (300/3.3 dpg). Case recorded 12 double-doubles including nine of her last 12 matches and recorded career highs 23 kills against Western Michigan on Oct. 2 and 27 digs against Buffalo on October 3. Miranda Valentine was fourth on the team in digs (225/2.6 dpg) and had five double-doubles including four out of her last five matches. She recorded career highs: 19 kills vs. Ohio in the MAC Quarterfinal game on Nov. 24 and 23 digs against Central Michigan on October 17.

BRANAM AMONG THE SCHOOL LEADERS: Akron junior Kim Branam placed herself among the leaders in school history this season. Branam's hitting percentage (.282) is tied for sixth in UA history and 3.5 kills per game ranks 10th. Branam is also eighth in career kills with 911 and 10th in career block assists with 226. Branam led the team with 330 kills (3.5 kpg), a .282 attack percentage, and ranked second on the team averaging .8 blocks per game.

SALLEE SETS MAC RECORD: Ball State's Emily Sallee established the Mid-American Conference record for assists per game in a season. The 5-foot-8 sophomore averaged 13.67 assists per game this season to break the previous record of 13.32, set by Marshall's Nicole Frizzo and Western Michigan's Heather Magelssen in 1997.

In addition to her MAC record, Sallee established a school record and set the Cardinals to three team marks. She totaled 1,545 assists for the season. That breaks the previous school standard of 1,432 set by Wendy Carter in 1995. Sallee, the 1997 MAC Freshman of the Year, also quarterbacked the Cardinals to a school-record .262 attack average, which surpasses the 1981 team's previous standard of .252. With Sallee at the helm, BSU averaged 16.35 kills and 15.04 assists per game this season. That betters the previous school records of 15.71 kills and 14.15 assists that she led the team to last season.

THE FRESHMAN HAVE IT: In BSU's semifinal loss to Northern Illinois, Megan Hammons and Julie Zylka continued to prove Randy Litchfield's assertion that they are the top-two freshmen in the Mid-American Conference this season. Hammons tied her career high with 20 kills plus totaled 13 digs and four blocks, while Zylka collected a career-best 14 kills and eight blocks. Another freshman, Jaime Stanley added three kills and three blocks. All three were selected to the league's all-freshman team. Zylka ended the season with a .337 hitting percentage and a blocks-per-game average of 1.24 to join Central Michigan's Karen Histed (1985) as the only freshmen in league history to hit better than .330 and block more than 1.20 balls per game in their first season. Histed hit .360 and averaged 1.21 blocks. Zylka's hitting percentage is the highest ever recorded by a Ball State freshman, while her blocks-per-game average ranks second.

ATTACK THE BALL: Ball State's Megan Stimmel finished the year with a MAC-high .357 attack average. The 6-foot-3 middle attacker, who is the first Cardinal to ever lead the league in attacking, is the first BSU player to finish the season above .300 since 1991. STRONG FINISH FOR BALL STATE: Despite starting the season 6-8, Ball State rallied to win 15 of its final 17 matches to finish the season 21-10. It marks BSU's seventh straight 20-win season and makes BSU just the third league school to post that many in a row. Central Michigan managed seven in a row from 1979 through 1985, while Western Michigan posted nine straight from 1979 through 1987.

CHIPPEWAS IMPROVE: The Chippewas finished the season 11-16 overall and 8-10 in MAC action. CMU improved from a 7-19 overall and 3-13 conference mark in 1997. The 1998 season was the first under interim coach Elaine Piha.

CHIPPEWA SEASON ENDS: CMU's season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to Miami in the first round of the MAC tournament. CMU is now 3-10 all-time in the tournament and has not won a postseason match since 1982. The Chippewas are 0-5 against Miami in the postseason.

FELDMAN ADDS HER NAME: Wendy Feldman completed one of the finest careers in Central Michigan history. Feldman added her name to many categories in the CMU career record books. The middle hitter ranks first in career total attacks (3,228), second in career kills (1,374), sixth in career total blocks (341) and seventh in career blocks solos (74). She led the team in kills (4.42 per game), hitting percentage (.317) and blocking (0.98) for the second straight year in 1998. She has led the conference in kills in league matches only the past two seasons.

TIME TO GET ILL: Robin Ill also added her name to the Central Michigan record books. Ill ranks eighth in career digs (812) and career total attacks (2,571) and ninth in career kills (904). She became just the third player in CMU history to record over 900 career kills and 800 career digs. Ill led the team in digs for the second straight year in 1998 with a 2.94 digs-per-game average. Ill played at CMU for the last three years after playing at Michigan State during her freshman campaign.

Aloha RedHawks: Miami faces Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Miami volleyball team (26-7), which earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament last Saturday, will travel to the University of Hawaii to face the Nevada Wolf Pack. Miami will face the Wolf Pack on Saturday with the winner of the match advancing to meet the winner of the Hawaii versus Brown University match in the second round on Sunday. The second round also will be held at Hawaii. Nevada (22-6), the Big West East Division champion, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after losing to No. 1 Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament. Hawaii boasts a 29-2 record, while Brown posts a 23-6 mark. Miami will play the 5 p.m. match on Saturday. The second round match will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

MAC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS: Miami cruised to its second Mid-American Conference tournament championship in the past three years Saturday night by knocking off Northern Illinois in three games, 15-8, 15-5 and 15-3. The RedHawks avenged last year's four-game loss to the Huskies in the tournament championship. The match lasted under an hour with games two and three taking just 17 and 12 minutes, respectively. Tournament MVP Alissia Thompson paced the RedHawks with 11 kills and six block, while Julie Sterk, also named to the all-tournament team, tallied nine kills. Miami defeated Akron in the semifinal match on Friday, 15-3, 14-16, 15-9 and 15-5. Thompson recorded 18 kills and four blocks, while Mindy Collins amassed 16 kills, 14 digs and two service aces.

MIAMI AT THE NCAA: Miami is making its fourth consecutive NCAA appearance, and the sixth appearance in the program's history. Prior to this four-year stretch of NCAA appearances that span from 1995-1998, Miami participated in the tournament in 1981 and 1990.

WHOSE AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF (PACK)?: In the first meeting between the Nevada Wolf Pack and the RedHawks, Miami will try to construct a brick wall that will stop the Wolf Pack short of the NCAA Tournament second round. Nevada (22-6) is led by 5-9 freshman outside hitter Suzanne Stonebarger, who averages a team-high 4.0 kills per game and 3.9 digs. Junior Lisa Netherby, a 5-11 outside hitter, also boasts high numbers. Netherby averages 3.8 kills and 2.5 digs per game and has 44 service aces this season. Alanna Whitnack, a 5-8 senior setter, posts 13.8 assists per game, while 5-11 sophomore middle blocker Elena Berman averages 1.0 block per game, 3.2 kills and 2.6 digs. Nevada and Miami are evenly matched height wise. The Wolf Pack has no player over six feet, with three players registering at six feet even. Earlier in the season, Nevada faced Miami-rival Ball State at the Duke Tournament. The Cardinals pushed the Wolf Pack to five games in a losing effort, 4-15, 1-15-11, 15-12, 11-15 and 11-15.

STOP THAT FIRST ROUND WOE: This 1998 RedHawk squad it trying to become the first Miami team to make it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Miami bowed out to New Mexico in 1981 in a four-game match, Nebraska in 1990 in three games, Maryland in 1995 in three games, Illinois State in 1996 in four games and Minnesota in 1997 in a three-game match.

FOUR OF A KIND: Finishing the conference season with a 15-3 mark, the RedHawks earned their fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference regular season title.

THOMPSON NAMED TOURNAMENT MVP: Alissia Thompson earned Mid-American Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player accolades after lifting the RedHawks to a tournament title. The high-flying Thompson used her 26 inch vertical leap to nail 18 kills in the semifinal match against Akron and 11 kills in the championship versus Northern Illinois to lead the team both nights. She also put down four blocks against the Zips and six against the Huskies. Thompson had the second-best hitting percentage (.386) behind teammate Julie Sterk.

STERK NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Julie Sterk also was named to the MAC all-tournament team. Sterk amassed 14 kills and four blocks against the Zips, while totaling nine kills and four blocks against the Huskies. She boasted the best hitting percentage during the tournament (.444).

MIAMI AMONG THE RANKS: The RedHawks received votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll 10 of the 12 weeks and has earned points in the poll nine consecutive weeks.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS HEADS TO NCAA TOURNAMENT: Northern Illinois received its third consecutive bid into the NCAA Tournament and fourth invite overall when the Huskies were selected to the 64-team field on Sunday. NIU faces Atlantic Coast Conference member Florida State University on Friday (Dec. 4) at the University of Louisville. The Huskies carry a 26-6 overall record in the tournament.

ROTUNNO IN THE RECORD BOOK: Western Michigan's Stefanie Rotunno finished her career in impressive style. Rotunno is No. 2 all-time in kills with 1,423. She also established a new WMU single-season record with 70 service aces and tied the school record for aces in a three-game match with six at Bowling Green. Rotunno posted double-doubles in Western's last three matches, giving her 15 this season and 31 for her career.

NOWAK JOINS ELITE GROUP: Sophomore setter Jen Nowak also earned a spot in the Bronco record books. Nowak's 12.68 assist-per-game average this season is second on the all-time list behind Heather Magelssen's (1997) 13.32 average. Nowak totaled 1,293 assists this season, ranking third on that list.

KILL THE BALL: The Broncos recorded 1,745 kills this season, the third-best total in program history. That total is surpassed by the 1987 team (1,900 kills) and the 1997 squad (1,820). Western's 272 service aces this season also rank third on the all-time list.

HITTING 300: Andrea Cole closed out her career by hitting .300 or better in eight of Western's final 11 matches. The senior reached double figures in kills five times during that hot streak. Cole reached double figures in kills seven times during her career.

LOOKING FOR 1,000: WMU juniors Traci Morin and Mandy Whitfield will enter the 1999 season with the 1,000 kill mark within reach. Morin registered 372 kills (3.1 kpg.) this season and has 768 in her career, just 232 shy of 1,000. Whitfield has racked up 789 kills in two seasons at Western and will need 211 next year for 1,000.