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2021 Mid-American Conference Spring Sports Report: Week of Jan. 25

As the snow starts to pile up outside, the spring sports action is heating up in the land of the MAC.

With the football offseason starting, and basketball coming up to the apex of its conference slate, it can be hard to remember that other spors in the Mid-American Conference have booted up as well, with tennis, volleyball, swimming and diving, wrestling and baseball all starting the process of getting back into action.

Starting this week, we will be updating the progress of the spring sports in a weekly, one-stop report!

Our aim is to be as succinct as possible with every sport, while also providing some depth of coverage in order to keep you informed of the comings and goings within each sport.

With all that said, let’s begin the deep dive!


Volleyball

The MAC players of the week for Week 1 have been released, with three players apiece in each division, including offensive player, defensive player and setter of the week.

The players for the East include:

  • OPOW: Katelyn Mayer, junior, Bowling Green: 39 kills in eight sets over two matches, .475 hitting percentage
  • DPOW: Sam Steele, freshman, Ohio: 51 digs (6.3 digs per set average), one ace, no errors in first career starts
  • Setter: Hanna Loube, junior, Bowling Green: 95 assists (conference leader through two matches,) two kills vs. NIU

The players for the West include:

  • OPOW: Rachel Bontrager, senior, Western Michigan: 36 kills and a .333 hit percentage in two matches, including 35th career double-double (16 kills, 10 digs) vs. Toledo.
  • DPOW: Kaley Smith, senior, Western Michigan: 49 digs in two matches (6.12 digs per set average) to lead the MAC as of Week 1. Also picked up three assists and a career-high three aces.
  • Setter: Kate Vinson, freshman, Ball State: 74 assists, 21 digs, three kills in first career starts

On top of the East division are the Bowling Green Falcons, coming off two victories against NIU. Miami (0-1), Akron and Buffalo (0-2) trail the Falcons, with Ohio and Kent State yet to start their respective seasons.

In the West division, Western Michigan and Ball State split leading duties, with both squads going 2-0 in the first week. Central Michigan (1-1), Toledo and NIU (0-2) make up the remainder of the standings, while Eastern Michigan didn’t get the chance to start the season.


Swimming and Diving

Ball State swept the categories for the women’s teams last week, with Brasilian native Marcella Ribiero (swimming) winning the 200-meter and 500-meter events in her Cardinal debut, and senior diver Caitlin Locante winning the three-meter and one-meter diving competitions vs. University of Indianapolis (UIndy.)

This week saw only one winner in the women’s side, with native Manitoban Sarah Watson picking up two first-place finishes (100m freestyle, 800m freestyle relay) and six runner-up finishes (including individual 100m butterfly and 200m medley) for the Akron Zips at the Shamrock Invitation at the University of Notre Dame.

For the men, last week saw sophomore swimmer Owen Chaye take home SOTW honors, sweeping the freestyle sprints (50m and 100m) and anchoring a winning 200m medley relay squad for Ball State in action vs, Bellarmine. Missouri State senior Michael Claunch received MAC DOTW honors after scoring a 306.37 in the one-meter dive.

This week, only one winner emerged for the men, with Miami freshman Owen Blazer selected. Blazer led off Miami’s 200m medley relay with a 22.14 split (35th in the country), and also took home wins in the 100m backstroke and 200-yard freestyle relay.


Tennis

Tennis resumed play for both the men and women this past week, with Ball State sweeping the singles and doubles category for weekly awards, and Miami sweeping the same categories for the women’s side.

Men’s singles player of the week Sajin Smith, a freshman for BSU, took home his first collegiate win in three sets, winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 over Notre Dame’s Matt Gamble in the invitational rubber match, ensuring the Cards a 4-3 win over the Fighting Irish.

The men’s doubles team of the week, Chris Adams and Vince Orlando, opened the scoring for the Cardinals vs. Notre Dame, edging out the Irish’s #1 doubles set for a 6-4 victory.

The women’s singles player of the week is Ontario’s own Brindtha Ramaswamy, who throttled her matchup 6-2, 6-0 to start the season off proper vs. Youngstown State, helping the RedHawks secure their first victory of the season.

Ramaswamy earned her second weekly award alongside Colombian Laura Rico, as the duo picked up a 6-4 win in the same tournament.


Gymnastics

The gym season kicked off last week, with Kent State sweeping both the gymnast and specialist awards. This week saw the awards split between participants from two different programs.

Week 1’s action saw senior gymnast Abby Fletcher score 9.75 or over in three disciplies, including a 9.875 in the floor exercise, to win the individual title in KSU’s season opener. The floor routine ranked #25 in the country amongst all competitors.

Freshman vault specialist Kyndall Gilbert took home Week 1 specialist honors after scoring a 9.850 in the vault, the best score in the MAC and 23rd-best in the country. Gilbert also posted a 9,725 in the floor exercise.

Kent State picked up their second gymnast of the week award for Week 2’s action, this time thanks to sophomore Rachel DeCavitch’s performance against Pittsburgh. DeCavitch performed in the all-around and posted a 39.050 to take home first-place honors, including a stellar 9.825 on the bars.

Eastern Michigan’s senior vault specialist Courtney Bezold scored a 9.850 on the bars in EMU’s invitational vs, Bowling Green to win the event, and help EMU secure a dominant overall victory.

EMU leaves the overall leaderboard at 3-0, but holds the MAC lead with Ball State (1-0) and Kent State (2-0.) NIU holds the middle of the table at 1-2 overall (0-1 MAC), while CMU (0-1), BGSU (0-2) and WMU (0-1) have yet to secure a victory thus far.


Soccer

Neither season has started up, but there is news for the men’s side in regards to former players finding professional sides.

The Mid-American Conference— and Akron Zips— once again picked up another first-round selection in the MLS SuperDraft, with Nigerian national David Egbo being selected by Vancouver Whitecaps FC with the ninth overall draft pick last week.

The pick is Akron’s 14th in the first round, and their 28th overall, with 43 current Zips seeing action internationally at both club and country levels.

Egbo registered 21 goals and 13 assists for 55 points in 56 career games for Akron, with 50 of his 132 shots being on-target.

Fellow Zips teammate Tom Smart, an English native, was also selected in the MLS SuperDraft, going to LA Galaxy with the 19th pick of the second round (45th overall.) Smart spent the first three seasons of his career with New Mexico before transferring to Akron, with eight appearances (two starts) in blue and gold.

In other MAC men’s soccer news:

  • SIU-Edwardsville’s Jorge Gonzalez, 2020 MAC POTY, was selected 76th overall (third round, 24th pick) by LA Galaxy in the MLS SuperDraft. Gonzalez has 22 goals and 7 assists in his SIU-E career.
  • West Virginia selected former Mountaineer Dan Stratford to be their 10th manager in program history this week. The London, England native was hired from University of Charleston, where he held a 61-4-5 record, and won two national titles (2017, 2019.)