The Miami RedHawks and Central Michigan Chippewas were selected to win their respective volleyball divisions by MAC coaches on Thursday evening, establishing both programs once again as the favorites heading into the 2021 season.
Miami looks to defend the regular season title for the fifth consecutive season, and was selected to win the East division, garnering four first-place votes and 62 points overall, as well as a vote to win the MAC Tournament. Miami touted a 17-12 (12-4 conference) record in the 2019-20 season, with a first-round loss to Ball State in the MAC tournament. The RedHawks qualified for the National Invitational Volleyball Tournament as an at-large, losing 0-2 to TCU.
Behind Miami in the Eastern division preseason polls is Bowling Green, who picked up five first-place votes. Ohio (3 first-place votes, 60 points), Akron (28 points), Kent State (24) and Buffalo (23) make up the rest of the East divison race.
Central Michigan (seven first-place votes, 67 points overall) will attempt to defend the MAC West title for the first time since 2003, after finishing the 2019-20 season 21-9 (11-5 conference) and receiving the program’s first post-season bid since 2011, losing in the first round to South Dakota 1-3. The Chips’ 2019 season was a program-changer, as CMU equalled their best record since 2007, and broke a 16-year divisional streak.
Ball State (five first-place votes, 64 points overall) are second-favorite in the MAC West this upcoming season. Western Michigan (45 points), Eastern Michigan (31), Toledo (23) and NIU (22) make up the rest of the West division race.
Despite being favorites to win their respective divisions, Miami and Central are not the favorites to win the MAC tournament; Bowling Green is the favorite for the postseason, receiving five votes. Ball State (2 votes), Central Michigan (2), Kent State, Miami and Ohio (1 vote each) also garnered consideration.
The MAC coaches also selected all-division teams for the East and West, with 12 players overall considered for preseason honors.
Selections for the MAC East division include: Emily Weigand (Akron); Katelyn Meyer (Bowling Green); Gaby Harper (Miami); Vera Giacomazzi (Ohio); Tia Jimerson (Ohio) and Maggie Nedoma (Ohio.)
Selections for the MAC West division include: Marie Plitt (Ball State); Natalie Risi (Ball State); Kalina Smith (Central Michigan); Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez (Central Michigan); Franki Strefling (Eastern Michigan); and Rachel Bontrager (Western Michigan.)
The volleyball season kicks off on Friday, January 22.