WMU News

Spikers clinch MAC quarterfinal home court

Nov. 4, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- WMU's volleyball team swept its weekend matches with cross-state rivals Central Michigan (Nov. 3) and Eastern Michigan (Nov. 4) to improve to 18-5 overall and 13-1 in the Mid-American Conference.

With Friday's 3-0 win versus Central, the Broncos clinched a berth in the 2000 MAC Tournament. Saturday's 3-0 sweep of Eastern Michigan guaranteed the Broncos one of the top four tournament seeds and a home match in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

Both of this weekend's matches were played in front of season-record crowds. The Broncos drew a season-high 1,083 fans to Friday's match, and then, topped that mark just 24 hours later with 1,159 on Saturday.

WMU has won 12 straight matches and has swept its past six opponents. The Broncos have also won nine consecutive MAC matches in University Arena extending back to November 1999.

Against Eastern Michigan, the Broncos won 15-11, 15-3, 15-8, in a match that lasted 93 minutes. The Broncos led the Eagles by a wide margin in kills, assists and digs, and posted a .336 team hitting percentage while holding their opponent to just .168 hitting.

The Broncos were out-blocked by EMU, 9.0 to 8.0 in team blocking (17-14 in total blocks). That is only the third time this season that a MAC opponent has out-blocked Western Michigan, and the first time in the past eight matches. WMU leads the conference in blocking.

Senior Alberta Griffin led all players with 16 kills and hit.270. For the second straight match, Griffin led the team in attempts, with 37 against both CMU and EMU. Classmate Monyka Paul had another huge night for Western. She hit .438 with 10 kills, led all players with 15 digs, and contributed a team-high four blocks, including one solo. She also had five assists.

Junior middle blocker Zakiya Pope added 10 kills on .348 hitting and had three blocks. Sophomore middle Angela Sillmon had four blocks and hit .600, with seven kills and only one error in 10 attempts.

Sophomore setter Ashley Ritter carded 44 assists (14.67 apg) versus Eastern, and had 94 for the weekend (15.67 apg). That kind of assist-per-game average, extended over an entire season, would pace the conference. Beyond assisting her teammates, Ritter had seven kills of her own and hit .357 for the match. She also contributed 11 digs and one block.

Western Michigan travels to Toledo on Nov. 10 and to Central Michigan on Nov. 11. The Broncos conclude the regular season at home with two crucial matches versus Ball State, Nov. 17, and Northern Illinois, Nov. 18. The outcome of contests played during the next two weekends will decide which team earns the top seed and ultimate home court advantage in the 2000 MAC Tournament.

MAC Tournament standings

The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the MAC Tournament, and the top four host the quarterfinal round on Nov. 21. Ball State and Western Michigan have already locked up two of the top four seeds. The MAC semifinals (Nov. 24) and championship match (Nov. 25) will be played on the home court of the top remaining seed following the quarterfinals.

The playoff arrangement in volleyball is not quite as division-obsessed as this year's new format in football, but it does have one division-related quirk. The top two seeds in the tournament go to the two division champions, regardless of their records. Under this format, a team could finish with the fifth- or sixth-best record in the conference and still be the second seed in the tournament by virtue of winning a division.

Conference records (includes matches through Nov. 4)

Team           Record  Division

Ball State*        14-1     West
WMU Broncos*       13-1     West
Northern Illinois  10-4     West
Ohio               11-5     East

Central Michigan    8-6     West
Bowling Green       8-6     East
Akron               8-7     East
Kent State          7-7     East

Miami               5-9     East
Toledo              4-10    West
Eastern Michigan    4-11    West
Marshall            1-13    East
Buffalo             0-14    East

*Ball State and WMU have clinched two of the top four tournament seeds.

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