Nov. 27, 1999
MUNCIE, Ind. -- Western Michigan University dropped a tough 3-0 decision to host Ball State in the Mid-American Conference volleyball championship match Saturday (Nov. 27) in Muncie. Ball State (28-6) won 15-11, 16-14, and 15-9 to avenge a 3-0 loss at WMU in September.
The Broncos (25-7) will learn on Sunday night if they will advance to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection. Ball State receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the conference championship.
The Bronco defense, which stopped Kent (3-0) in the semifinals on Friday night, was present again in the tournament final. WMU had 65 digs compared with 62 for Ball State, but the Broncos were unable to stop the Cardinals' Susie Meshberger and Emily Sallee, who had career matches.
Meshberger, a 6-5 sophomore middle hitter, led all players with 10 blocks and led Ball State with 22 kills and a .571 hitting percentage. Sallee, a 5-8 junior setter and the tournament most-valuable player, set a MAC record with 75 assists in the three-game set. That is also the fourth highest total in NCAA Division I history for a three-game match.
WMU raced to a 6-0 lead in game one of the championship, but the Cardinals began chipping away at the lead and eventually tied the score. The Broncos pulled ahead again on back-to-back kills by Alberta Griffin, but Ball State responded to tie the match again at 11. Meshberger, who hit 10 of 11 in game one, put the Cardinals ahead, 12-11, and Ball State held off the Broncos to close out the first game, 15-11.
In the second game, it was Ball State that raced to the early lead, 9-3, and WMU that rallied. Senior Mandy Whitfield put the Broncos ahead, 14-13, with one of her match-high four service aces, but that Broncos were unable to capitalize on the lead, and Ball State held on for the 16-14 win.
Game two was the match-breaker. Ball State took an 8-1 lead in game three, and closed out the match with a 15-9 win.
Mandy Whitfield led all players with 23 kills, had a .306 hitting percentage, and tied junior Kelly Kuharski with a team-high total of 12 digs. Senior Traci Morin also hit .306 for the match, contributed 13 kills and 10 digs, and led the Broncos with six blocks. Sophomore Zakiya Pope and junior Alberta Griffin each had 12 kills. Junior Monyka Paul added 10 kills to the Bronco total and had five blocks. Junior setter Jen Nowak (37 assists) and freshman setter Ashley Ritter (24 assists) spread the ball around effectively as WMU put five players in double figures for kills. Freshman Cindy Kizer had a career-high 11 digs.
As a team, WMU had 75 kills (.260), compared with 81 (.331) for Ball State. Ball State out-blocked WMU 15.0 to 10.5. Both teams carded six services aces in the match.
All-MAC Tournament Team
Shiva Davis, Kent
Heather Grieg, Bowling Green
Traci Morin, WMU
Mandy Whitfield, WMU
Susie Meshberger, Ball State
Emily Sallee, Ball State
Media contact: Geoff Brown; 616 387-4138; firstname.lastname@example.org
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