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MAC Volleyball Week 12 Recap and Tournament Preview

Are we looking at a collision between Northern Illinois and Kent State in the MAC Championship game Sunday?

Scott Walstrom, NIU Media Services

There was a lot of intriguing storylines around the MAC as teams gear up for the MAC Tournament in Athens this week. The schedule for the Tournament can be found here.

Akron (8-21, 2-14 MAC)

The Zips ended their season on a six-match losing streak as they were swept on the road by Kent State and Ohio. Akron was swept nine times this season.

Ball State (14-16, 8-8 MAC)

Locking up the sixth seed in the MAC Tournament were the Cardinals as they took a five-set victory over Central Michigan this weekend. Alex Fuelling became the first Ball State player since 2004 to have 20+ kills and digs in the same match with her performance against the Chips.

Bowling Green (7-22, 3-13 MAC)

The Falcons ended their season on a whimper as they fell to Miami and Northern Illinois. Bowling Green ends the season with a .177 hitting percentage, which is tenth-worst in the conference.

Buffalo (7-21, 6-10 MAC)

The Bulls were swept in three straight matches on their way to the seventh seed in the MAC Tournament. Buffalo boasts the lowest hitting percentage as well as the fewest kills and assists in the league.

Central Michigan (11-18, 6-10 MAC)

Losers of six of their last seven matches, the Chippewas miss the MAC Tournament with a lot of questions after putting head coach Erik Olson on paid leave during the season.

Eastern Michigan (14-15, 6-10 MAC)

Securing an eight-seed in the Tournament are the Eagles, who knocked off Ball State and Toledo over the weekend. Corynne Smith put together a strong season at the libero spot with 5.42 digs per set, which is second in the MAC.

Kent State (19-9, 13-3 MAC)

The Flashes secured the three-seed in the Tournament with five straight wins, including wins over Tournament teams in Miami, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, and Buffalo. Kent State features two of the top three scorers in the MAC with Kelly Hutchinson and Kelsey Bittinger, who combined for 7.3 kills per set this season.

Miami (20-9, 12-4 MAC)

Posting their second consecutive 20-win season, the RedHawks clinched a bye in the Tournament with four straight victories, including a five-set victory over the defending MAC Tournament champion in Western Michigan. Miami has two of the top three hitters in the MAC with Jenny Ingle and Paige Hill hitting .350+ this season.

Northern Illinois (18-10, 14-2 MAC)

The regular season MAC champions, the Huskies have won seven straight, all of them coming by sweep, and now have two byes in the Tournament. T'ara Austin has had a stellar season for Northern Illinois as she leads the league in points per set with 4.69.

Ohio (23-6, 13-3 MAC)

The Bobcats are the East Division champs and own the second seed, but lost to three teams that are in the Tournament field (NIU, Miami, Kent State). Ohio still boasts the best setter in the conference with Abby Gilleland and her 10.62 assists per set.

Toledo (6-23, 3-13 MAC)

The Rockets' season is finally over after dropping three of its last four matches to close out 2015. Toledo was winless in its conference road matches this season.

Western Michigan (14-17, 10-6 MAC)

The defending MAC champion Broncos limped into the Tournament and a five-seed after a pair of losses to higher-seeded Northern Illinois and Miami this weekend. The team is second in the league in blocks as Nicole Kinser tallied a block per set this season.

MAC Tournament

#5 Western Michigan vs. #8 Eastern Michigan

The Broncos have a pair of four-set wins over the Eagles already this season, but Eastern is playing good volleyball right now so this match can go either way. Look for Western's defense to give EMU's inconsistent offense some trouble.

#6 Ball State vs. #7 Buffalo

In their earlier match-up this season, the Cards swept the Bulls as UB hit .038 for the match. Fuelling led the way with 10 kills as BSU had four players with seven kills or more in a balanced attack.

#4 Miami vs. WMU/EMU

The 'Hawks have wins over the directional Michigans this season with a 3-1 victory over the Eagles and the aforementioned five-setter over the Broncos. Against WMU, Olivia Rusek had one of her best games of the season with 21 kills while Western committed 34 attack errors and nine service errors.

#3 Kent State vs. BSU/UB

The Flashes are 3-0 this season against its potential opponents, but the Cards managed to take them to five sets in their match-up. The difference in the match came down to Kent State's defense, which outdug Ball State 77-67 while KSU had three players with 12+ kills.

#1 Northern Illinois vs. MU/WMU/EMU

NIU swept all of their opponents on their side of the Tournament bracket earlier in the season and look to compete in the title game.

#2 Ohio vs. KSU/BSU/UB

The Bobcats lost in four sets to Kent State in their second match-up and were taken to five sets by the Cards this season. KSU outhit the 'Cats .181-.148 while Ohio committed 21 service errors against Ball State.

NIU/MU/WMU/EMU vs. OU/KSU/BSU/UB

The Huskies two conference losses came from Kent State in four sets and a sweep at Ball State this season. KSU hit over .300 for the match compared to NIU's .250, and the Cards hit .370 in their match-up with Northern.