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2014 MAC Volleyball Tournament: Western Michigan, Miami Advance To Semifinals

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

For the most part, the seeding has held through two rounds in the 2014 MAC Volleyball tournament. Kent State in the first round and Western Michigan in the second managed small upsets, but the four remaining semifinalists are the 1, 2, 3, and 5 seeds in the tournament.

Much like in basketball, the MAC has built a tournament bracket that protects its top seeds, which is especially valuable given that the conference champion has generally been able to win a match or two in the NCAA tournament. Anyway, given that Ohio and Northern Illinois, the clear top two in the conference, get byes right into this evening's semifinals.

The real meaningful matches start tonight. Here's how we got here:

#5 Western Michigan topped Buffalo in three progressively less competitive sets, 25-22, 25-18, 25-19. Sydney LeMay and Ali Gossen each had 10 kills for the Broncos, but the real difference in the match was when Buffalo tried to control the ball: WMU had ten aces in just three sets, and held Buffalo to just a .133 hitting percentage, about 90 points below the Bulls' average. To their credit, UB was without Tahleia Bishop, who has missed four matches and parts of four more with injuries this season. But, UB is out.

The Broncos continued on with a slight upset in the second round: a 25-12, 25-20, (21-25), 26-24 defeat of #4 seed Ball State. As you can imagine, it was a closer match, and the Cardinals fought back with vigor after dropping the first set in a big way. Once again WMU took advantage in the service game: they added 7 more aces to their tournament total, while Ball State gave away 10 points with service errors.

#3 Miami advances to the semis by beating #7 Kent State after the Flashes topped EMU (more below) Friday evening. The Redhawks were the clear second-best team in the East Division all season, and rolled through Kent in three sets 25-18, 25-17, 25-18. Jenny Ingle was a non factor but Miami still had three in double-digit kills and hit .349 to easily run through Kent State. Liz Reikow had just 2 errors, 12 kills, and 4 blocks for KSU.

To get to the match against Miami, Kent State had pulled a mild upset of Eastern Michigan in the first round, persevering through four tight sets to win in four, (23-25), 25-22, 26-24, 25-22. Reikow had 12 kills in that match as well, while Kent as a team had 10 blocks and held EMU to just .080 hitting. The match saw 28 ties and 12 lead changes.

The semifinals begin tonight at 5:30 pm, when Western Michigan takes on Ohio, Miami-Northern Illinois will follow, tentatively at 7:30.