Aug. 17, 1999
CLEVELAND -- In a vote by the league's head coaches, Miami (Ohio) and Ball State have been tabbed to win their respective divisions of the Mid-American Conference in volleyball. Western Michigan University was picked a close third in the MAC West behind Ball State and Northern Illinois.
Ball State, Miami and Northern Illinois finished with identical 15-3 regular season conference records in 1998.
In the West Division polling, Ball State recorded eight first-place votes and 72 points. Northern Illinois, under the direction of first-year head coach Todd Kress, received three first-place votes and 65 points. Ball State returns the top setter in the league in junior Emily Sallee, one of three first-team all-MAC players returning in 1999. Northern Illinois counters offensively with Christy Mikesell, who was sixth in the MAC in attack percentage (.312).
WMU received 57 points and the remaining two first-place votes in the West. The Broncos are coming off a 19-13 overall record and an 11-7 mark in the MAC. The 11 wins are the most league victories in the five years under head coach Cathy George. WMU returns five starters and six letter winners, including seniors Traci Morin (6-2 middle blocker) and Mandy Whitfield (6-1 outside hitter). Morin is a two-time all-MAC selection.
Picked to finish top in the East Division, Miami is the defending MAC tournament champion and was selected by the head coaches to win their second consecutive MAC tournament title. While Miami returns only three starters from last year's 27-8 squad, one of them is middle hitter Alissia Thompson, the 1998 MAC Player of the Year. Thompson was second on the team in both kills (415) and total blocks (119), and will have help on the outside from Mindy Collins (385 kills, 403 digs) and setter Kerry Hardek (1,582 assists).
MAC Coaches Preseason Volleyball Poll East Division 1. Miami (11) 89 2. Akron (2) 69 3. Ohio 65 4. Bowling Green 48 5. Kent 40 6. Marshall 39 7. Buffalo 14 West Division 1. Ball State (8) 72 2. Northern Illinois (3) 65 3. Western Michigan (2) 57 4. Eastern Michigan 34 5. Central Michigan 26 6. Toledo 19 First-place votes in parentheses Tournament Winner: Miami
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