2012 MAC Volleyball Tournament Team-By-Team Preview
No. 1 Seed Ohio Bobcats
No. 2 Seed Bowling Green Falcons
No. 3 Seed Western Michigan Broncos
No. 4 Seed Northern Illinois Huskies
No. 5 Seed Akron Zips
No. 6 Seed Central Michigan Chippewas
No. 7 Seed Eastern Michigan Eagles
No. 8 Seed Ball State Cardinals
Ohio Bobcats (No. 1 Seed)
Ohio finished atop the conference standings after going 14-2, its best mark since 2009. The Bobcats have won the conference title on seven occasions (2003-06, 2008-10) and reached the NCAA Tournament all but once since 2003. The Green and White face off against Ball State in the quarterfinals on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Bobcats bested the Cardinals earlier this season in Muncie, 3-0. If Ohio were to earn the victory, the semifinal match would be at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday against either Northern Illinois or Akron. The Bobcats lead the MAC in blocking with an average of 2.79 per set and rank 19th in the nation. Meanwhile, they are limiting opponents to a .152 hitting percentage, also tops in the MAC, and averaging 17.36 digs per set, second in the MAC. Ohio also leads the league offensively with a .245 hitting percentage and sits third with an average of 14.11 kills per set. The Bobcats also rank fourth in the MAC with an average of 1.18 service aces per set.
Bowling Green Falcons (No. 2 Seed)
After going 13-3 in Mid-American Conference play during the regular season, Bowling Green heads to the MAC Tournament Friday as the No. 2 seed. The Falcons made a seven-win improvement in conference play over the 2011 season and the Falcons will face No. 7 seed Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m. A year ago, Bowling Green was the No. 8 seed for the MAC Tournament and was bounced in straight sets by top seed Northern Illinois. In fact, the Falcons have not won a MAC Tournament match since defeating Toledo in five sets in the first round in 2009 and the team’s last trip to the semifinals came in 2008. The 2006 team was the last one to advance to the championship and only the 1991 team earned the MAC Tournament Championship. Bowling Green is 16-23 all-time in the MAC Tournament.
Western Michigan (No. 3 Seed)
For the second year in a row, the Western Michigan volleyball team will open the Mid-American Conference tournament against a familiar in-state rival, as it was announced tonight that the Broncos will face the Central Michigan Chippewas in the opening round of the 2012 MAC Tournament at the SPIRE Center in Geneva, Ohio. The match, which features the third-seeded Broncos and the sixth-seeded Chippewas, is scheduled for Friday, November 16 at 1:30 p.m. The Broncos faced the Chippewas in the opening round of last year's tournament; in fact, the seedings in the match remain the same as they were in 2011, with the Broncos entering the tournament at No. 3 and Central Michigan at No. 6. The Chippewas defeated the Broncos 3-0 in last year's tournament en route to a MAC tournament championship, despite the fact the Broncos swept the season series with the Chippewas to that point. The team's split this year's matches, with Central Michigan defeating WMU 3-1 in Mount Pleasant, and the Broncos defeating the Chippewas 3-0 in Kalamazoo.
Northern Illinois Huskies (No. 4 Seed)
Ending the Mid-American Conference regular season with wins in four of its last five contests, the No. 4-seeded Northern Illinois volleyball team faces No. 5 seed Akron (16-12, 9-7 MAC) in the first round of the eight-team MAC Tournament Friday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. ET in Geneva, Ohio at SPIRE Institute. The Huskies (19-13, 10-6 MAC) finished the regular season in second place in the MAC West Division, while Akron finished third in the East. The winner will go on to face the winner of the No. 1 Ohio-No. 8 Ball State match in the semifinals. Since taking over in 2002, 11th-year NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden has guided the Huskies to a 9-9 record in the MAC Tournament and has won at least one match in the tournament in all but three seasons (2002, 2006, 2009).
Akron Zips (No. 5 Seed)
Fifth-seeded Akron is set to play in the opening match of the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament against the No. 4 seed NorthernIllinois at 11 a.m. Friday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva. The Zips finished the regular season with the program’s best overall and conference record in nine years at 16-12 and 9-7 in the MAC. UA has exhibited what could arguably be the most significant turnaround of any team in the league this year. Picked to finish last in the East Division in the MAC Preseason Poll following just one conference win in 2011, the Zips advanced to the MAC Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 when they defeated NIU, 3-2. Akron will set out to attain a similar result this time around, as it looks to avenge a five-set road loss to Northern from earlier this season. UA trails the all-time series with NIU, 8-20, and will be playing for its first victory over the Huskies since 2004.
Central Michigan Chippewas (No. 6 Seed)
The Chippewas are the defending tournament champions after winning their first MAC title last season as the No. 6 seed. CMU will have a similiar path to the finals as last season having defeated Western Michigan in the first round, Ohio in the semifinals and Northern Illinois in the championship a year ago. CMU finished the MAC regular season with a 9-7 record, its first winning record in conference play since 2008, while the Broncos won the MAC West with a 13-3 mark. The two teams split their regular season meetings, with each team winning at home. Sophomore Kaitlyn McIntyre and junior Jenna Coates each were named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team Thursday afternoon, leading a group of four Chippewas to earn All-MAC honors.
Eastern Michigan Eagles (No. 7 Seed)
The Eagles open up the Tournament with a 7 p.m. match at the SPIRE Sports Complex. EMU opens with No. 2 seed Bowling Green (18-10, 13-3 MAC), whom they have lost to earlier this season. The winner of that match will play against the winner of the No. 3 Western Michigan and No. 6 Central Michigan match Saturday evening at 5 p.m. This is the 12th-straight Mid-American Conference Volleyball Tournament appearance by EMU, dating back to 2001 when the Eagles took on Ball State and fell in four sets, Nov. 20. Head Volleyball Coach Kim Berrington owns an 8-12 record all-time in the Mid-American Conference Volleyball Tournament.
Ball State Cardinals (No. 8 Seed)
The No. 8 seeded Ball State women's volleyball team opens play in the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday, when it battles No. 1 Ohio in the 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal match at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. After finishing league play with a 7-9 MAC record, the Ball State women's volleyball team earned the No. 8 seed in this weekend's MAC Tournament. Unlike last season, in which the Cardinals entered the MAC Tournament 36th in the NCAA RPI rankings, the Cardinals find themselves ranked 129th in the current NCAA RPI rankings and will need to win the league tournament in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament. After posting a 1-1 record in 2011, with a quarterfinal win over Eastern Michigan (3-1) and a semifinal loss to Northern Illinois (3-1), Ball State is 29-17 (.630) all-time in MAC Tournament matches .