WMU News

Broncos finish 2nd at Ameritech Invitational

Sept. 16, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- The WMU volleyball team improved to 5-4 for the season with a 2-1 weekend at the 17th annual Ameritech Invitational at Western Michigan University. On Friday (Sept. 15), the Broncos defeated Liberty, 3-0, and Big East power Connecticut, 3-1. In Saturday's tournament title match, WMU was defeated, 3-0, by Ohio State.

Nationally ranked Ohio State won the tournament championship with 3-0 victories over WMU, Connecticut and Liberty. The Buckeyes' setter Katie Virtue was named the tournament's most-valuable player. Broncos Zakiya Pope, M'Myia McQuirter and Alberta Griffin were named to the all-tournament team.

Western Michigan is 5-2 in its past seven matches. In their first five victories, the Broncos have notched 3-1 wins over Connecticut and Virginia, both rated among the top 100 teams in the nation based on strength of schedule and record in 1999.

"Those wins should help us at the end of the season," said head coach Cathy George, referring to the Broncos' prospects for an NCAA tournament berth.

In their three matches at the Ameritech Invitational, the Broncos drew an average of 759 fans per match. That puts WMU on pace to finish even higher than last season, when the Broncos were first in the MAC and among the top 40 teams in the nation in average home attendance.

WMU opens Mid-American Conference play with four straight road matches. The Broncos travel to Miami, Sept. 22; Ball State, Sept. 23; Akron, Sept. 29; and Eastern Michigan, Sept. 30. The next home contest for the WMU volleyball team is Friday, Oct. 6, versus Bowling Green.

WMU vs Ohio State

On Saturday afternoon (Sept. 16), the WMU volleyball team was defeated by Ohio State, 3-0 (11-15, 9-15, 9-15). The Broncos led at one or more points in all three games, including a 10-6 lead in game one, but were not able to hold off the bigger Ohio State team.

Both teams fought for every point. WMU limited Ohio State's powerful offense to just .190 hitting, and OSU held Western Michigan to a frigid .032 attack percentage.

None of the Broncos made it to double figures in kills. Zakiya Pope had nine kills, Alberta Griffin and Monyka Paul each had eight, and Angela Sillmon added six. Sillmon, a sophomore middle blocker, also had four block assists in the match to lead WMU in blocks.

WMU vs Connecticut

On Friday night (Sept. 15), the Bronco volleyball team defeated Big East power Connecticut, 3-1 (15-8, 9-15, 15-10, 15-13). WMU won its third straight match to improve to 5-3 on the season. Connecticut fell to 6-3 overall.

Cathy George, who notched her 100th career win as the Broncos' head coach, said before the match that Connecticut would be "a pivotal contest for our whole season." Connecticut finished second in the Big East in 1999 and is expected to challenge for that conference's title and an NCAA tournament berth this season.

Sophomore middle blocker Angela Sillmon came off the bench and had a huge night for the Broncos. She carded 16 kills, second most on the team, led the Broncos with six blocks, and had a .414 hitting percentage. Sillmon's 16 kills is her career best at WMU.

Also with career-best performances in the win over Connecticut were junior outside hitter M'Myia McQuirter, who led WMU with 20 kills, and senior outside hitter Alberta Griffin, who made a staggering 21 digs for her team.

Senior Monyka Paul, playing with a foot injury, carded a double-double with 11 kills and an equal number of digs. Middle blocker Zakiya Pope added 15 kills to the Bronco effort, and defensive specialists Cindy Kizer and Kelly Kuharski contributed 12 and 11 digs, respectively.

Senior setter Jen Nowak, who played all but a few minutes of the match, had 57 assists (14.25 apg) and helped her team to a .251 overall hitting percentage. Nowak was relieved briefly in the fourth game by sophomore Ashley Ritter, who helped stem a Connecticut rally and preserve the win.

The matched was played in front of 958 fans for what Bronco athletics had dubbed "Premiere Night," a gala celebration of the start of the 2000 seasons for all WMU teams.

WMU vs Liberty

In a mid-day match on Friday (Sept. 15), the WMU volleyball team opened play at the Ameritech Invitational in University Arena with a 3-0 win over Liberty (15-11, 15-6, 15-5). Liberty qualified for the NCAA tournament in 1999, but has struggled to a 1-8 record so far this season.

Junior middle blocker Zakiya Pope led all players with 16 kills and a .462 hitting percentage (16-4-26). She also led the field with two solo blocks and four block assists. Pope contributed four digs and three services aces in the Bronco win.

M'Myia McQuirter had 14 kills and hit .379 (14-3-29) for the match. Alberta Griffin contributed 11 kills (.259) and Angela Sillmon chipped in with seven (.333). As a team, WMU hit .326 and held Liberty to a .125 attack percentage.

Griffin carded a double-double in the contest, adding 10 digs to her 11 kills. Defensive specialist Kelly Kuharski had six digs, one service ace, and one kill.

Sparking the Bronco offense through the first two games, setter Jen Nowak had 32 assists for a 16 assists-per-game average, made two kills (.333), eight digs, and had one block and one service ace. Setter Ashley Ritter played the third game and compiled equally impressive stats in relief. She had 11 assists, one block, and hit .400 with three kills in five attempts (3-1-5).

For more information, visit the Broncos on the Web at <wmubroncos.com>.

Media contact: Geoff Brown; 616 387-4138; geoffrey.brown@wmich.edu

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