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2021 Mid-American Conference Spring Sports Report: Week of Feb. 3

Track and field opened play this past week, making it the sixth sport to launch in the 2021 spring season.

Its time for the latest edition of the Spring Sports Report, now with more sports!

Indoor track-and-field started up this week, with little-to-no bumps in terms of the schedule, making it the sixth sport currently in action.

Meanwhile, the other spring sports have progressed their seasons, with a handful of sports in their third weeks, and others in their second weeks. The outlook for fall sports, which were also delayed until the spring, is still yet to be seen, but are expected to start up in the “spring’ months as the “spring sports” (which start in the winter) start to wind down.

Don’t think too hard on it, it’s been a rough year.

Without further ado: the report!


Volleyball

The MAC released its players of the week for the second week of action on Monday afternoon, naming three players per division for the honors, including an offensive player, defensive player and “setter”.

This week, however, is a bit different, with four players in the MAC West earning weekly awards, as the setter honor for the MAC West was split between two players from the same team.

The names for the MAC East include:

  • Offensive: Katelyn Meyer, junior, Bowling Green: Once again, Meyer reeled in offensive POTW honors after an explosive individual performance. Meyer had 31 kills, eight digs, three blocks and an ace in two clean sweeps of WMU, effectively controlling the offensive pace for the Falcons.
  • Defensive: Erin Gardner, junior, Kent State: Gardner was the anchor for the KSU defense in their clean sweep of the favored Chippewas, totalling 40 digs (5.71 per set average) over two matches to reduce the CMU offense to a paltry .166 hit percentage.
  • Setter: Alex Haffner, redshirt junior, Kent State: Haffer, much like teammate Gardner, set the defensive tone for the Golden Flashes vs. CMU, minding the gaps in the sweeping effort. Haffner picked up 58 assists and a career-high four aces in two matches, averaging 14.23 assists and 2.57 digs per set.

The names for the MAC West include:

  • Offensive: Kia Holder, senior, Ball State: Holder picks up the OPOTW honor thanks to a ferocious performance in a sweep of Buffalo this past week. Holder scored 21 kills and a career-high six blocks to help lead a nearly-unstoppable BSU offense, which had a .331 success rate in attack, while also liminting the Bulls to a paltry .030 in the same statistic.
  • Defensive: Ryann Jaqua, sophomore, Toledo: Jaqua, in her first-ever starts at libero, seemed to be at home in the new position, earning DPOTW honors for her performances vs. NIU. Jaqua held two of the six top spots for digs by an individual over the weekend, and totalled 56 in eight sets (7.00 digs/set average) against the Huskies.
  • Setter (split): Kate Vinson, freshman; and Esther Grussing, redshirt sophomore, both of Ball State: In a rare tie, two teammates pick up setter of the week for Week 2 of the season. Vinson receives her second-straight honorific of the season thanks to a statline of 27 assists, nine digs and a block assist. Grussing, meanwhile, picks up her first honorific of the season after a 35 assist, 12 dig performance aided by three service aces. Combined, Vinson and Grussing paced the Cardinals for a 10.33 assists per set average and spearheaded the .331 attack success percentage.

Bowling Green’s dominance continues, as the undefeated Falcons also lord a 12-game streak over their competitors to lead both the MAC East and the conference overall. They easily dispatched WMU to move to 4-0 on the year.

Kent State, at 2-0, moved into second in the East based on win percentage after getting a delayed start to the season, upsetting CMU in the process. Behind them sits the Miami RedHawks (3-1, 2-1 MAC), the Akron Zips (1-3), the Ohio Bobcats (1-1, 0-0 MAC) and the winless Buffalo Bulls.

In the West, CMU’s stunning fall to Kent State places them in the cellar, as the preseason favorites are now 1-3 (0-2 MAC.) This has opened up the opportnity for Ball State (4-0) to establish themselves as the frontrunners in the division race.

WMU is the only other team in-division to have a record above .500, placing them second in the West at 2-2 after suffering two losses at the hands of BGSU this weekend. NIU and Toledo split third place with 1-3 records, while EMU has yet to play a game due to COVID protocols.


Swimming and Diving

Swimmers and divers of the week were announced for both men’s and women’s leagues, with one selection per category, and a list of “other nominees.”

Men’s division honors included:

  • Swimmer: Joey Garberick, freshman, Ball State: Garberick took home swimmer of the week honors after sweeping the individual breaststroke races for the Cardinals in their victory over Xavier in the Butler [IN] University Invite. Garberick timed at 55.19 (second-fastest in BSU history) at the 100m breaststroke and 2:03.57 in the 200m breaststroke (fourth-fastest in BSU history) to aid the Cards. Garberick also contributed to the 200m medley relay, swimming the second leg in BSU’s first-place performance.
  • Diver: John David Spence, junior, Missouri State: Spence scored two podium finishes for the Bears at the SMU invite in Texas, with a 305.03 in the three-meter boards (second) and 262.20 in the one-meter boards (third,)
  • Other nominees: Dylan Moffatt (Missouri State); Jackson Caudill (Evansville)

Women’s division honors included:

  • Swimmer: Jillian Lawton, senior, Buffalo: Lawton won both her individual performances, and legged for their winning 200-yard freestyle relay team en route to Buffalo’s win over Duquense last weekend. Lawton set the Duqense pool record at 23.53 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle relay in one win, and paced the 50-yard butterfly at 25.25 seconds.
  • Diver: Bethany Berger, senior, Eastern Michigan: Berger continued her record pace this past weekend in EMU’s conference victory over BGSU, sweeping the diving events with NCAA-worthy qualifying scores. Berger scored a 273.90 in the one-meter boards and 295.50 in the three-meter boards to earn the victories. Berger’s victory in the one-meter was her third on three tries to open the season.
  • Other nominees: Halli Siwik (Ohio); McKenzie Grau (Ohio); Riley Hofman (Eastern Michigan); Joelle Gallais (Toledo)

Tennis

The tennis action continues into its second week in both leagues, as teams start to accumulate enough results to start separating themselves in the standings.

The lists for players of the week in both singles and doubles is more crowded this time around, with plenty of “other nominees” listed for the respective leagues. Starting this week, we’ll start with the men’s honors, then briefly go over the league outlook, then do the same for women’s honors.

This week’s men’s singles and doubles players of the week include:

  • Singles: Chris Adams, senior, Ball State: Adams picks up his first individual honorific of the 2021 season, and his second overall, thanks to his performances against Cleveland State which helped to clinch another out-of-conference win for BSU. Adams, the no.3 singles for the Cards, beat CSU’s Maxime Mareschal-Hay by a score of 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3) and Clark Bilinovich by a score of 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-6(7) on Satuday and Sunday, respectively.
  • Doubles: Arjun Honnappa and Fynn Lohse, Western Michigan: The international duo, made up of sophomore Honnappa (Bengalura, India) and junior Lohse (Kaltenkirchen, Germany), pulled off a 4-0 sweep over opponents from Grand Valley State (6-2 in no.2 doubles, 6-1 in no.1 doubles) and Ferris State (6-1 in no.1 doubles, 6-1 in no.2 doubles) in out-of-conference action.
  • Other nominees: Kristopher Ortega (NIU); Jackson Boone (WMU); Bryce Bonin and Eli Herran (Ball State); Mikko Malinen and Victor Spolidorio (NIU)

NIU, sitting at 3-0 with a game in hand on their opponents, is first in the league after this weekend’s results. This puts WMU in the unique position of being 4-0, but in second place. Ball State, at 3-1, is currently in third as the only other team in the league to play. Binghampton, Buffalo and Toledo have yet to begin their seasons.

This week’s women’s league singles and doubles players of the week were a clean sweep for Eastern Michigan, a week removed from Miami doing the same:

  • Singles: Emma-Lou Pommier, redshirt freshman, Eastern Michigan: The Frenchwoman made her presence felt in her first collegiate action. clean-sweeping all four sets of no. 5 singles action against Cleveland State (6-2, 6-1) and Youngstown State (6-1, 6-4) over the weekend.
  • Doubles: Isabelle Pompa and Vasavi Ganesan, Eastern Michigan: Pompa, a redshirt freshman from Staphorst, Netherlands; and Ganesan, a redshirt junior from Tamil Nadu, India, make up the second international duo to pick up honorifics this week. The pair wrecked havoc for the Eagles vs. Cleveland State (6-2 in a point-clinching scenario) and Youngstown State (6-4) to start the year 2-0 as a doubles outfit.
  • Other nominees: Emma Peeler (Ball State); Lindsey Ziegler (Western Michigan); Peeler and Jessica Braun (Ball State); Ziegler and Kristina Tiraspolsky (Western Michigan)

WMU is the only undefeated team in the conference, sitting at 2-0 after starting the season this week. Rival EMU sits at 1-1 for the second spot, while Ball State and Miami both sit at 1-2, tied for third. Toledo (0-1) and NIU (0-3) are seeking their first wins, while BGSU and Buffalo have yet to start play.


Track and Field

Indoor TAF action started this week for many members of the MAC, with four athletes earning weekly honors in both track and field between both men’s and women’s leagues.

Men’s track and field honorees include:

  • Track: Andrew Schroff, sophomore, Miami: Set new personal best at the mile, winning over All-American teammate Sean Torphy at the Syracuse Team Challenge. His mark is tops in the conference and 20th in the country.
  • Field: Ryan Smith, sophomore, Miami: Set official personal record at 17.12 meters in shot put at the Syracuse Team Challenge, winning the meet.

Women’s track and field honorees include:

  • Track: Emily Akin, junior, Miami: Picked up a 3000-meter victory, scoring 12 seconds over the runner-up at the Syracuse Team Challenge, for her second individual win of the season.
  • Field: Ebonie Whitted, junior, Bowling Green: Won the Sid Sink Invitational with a 50ft., 9.5 inch (15.48m) shot put, a personal best. The throw places her at 36th nationally.
  • Other nominees: Abby Moore (Ohio); Sydney Jefferson (Miami); Alexis Thigpen (Ball State); Alysse Wade (Eastern Michigan)

Wrestling

Last week, we inadverdantly omitted wrestling as a sport in-season. League play began the week of Jan. 6, with this week marking the fifth week of graps action. We’ll catch up with standings and wrestlers of the previous five weeks, then reset at the present day next week.

The five wrestlers named the best of their weeks include:

  • Jan. 6: Allan Hart, Mizzou, R-Junior, 141 lbs.
  • Jan. 13: Matt Stencel, Central Michigan, Senior, 285 lbs.
  • Jan. 20: Allan Hart, Mizzou, R-Junior, 141 lbs.
  • Jan. 27 : Keegan O’Toole, Mizzou, Freshman, 165 lbs.
  • Feb. 3: Saul Ervin, SIUE, R-Sophomore, 141 lbs.

League standings look about as expected, with Missouri atop the conference with an undefeated 9-0 mark. Rider, at 2-1 (2-0 MAC) sit at second in the table, with Buffalo the first fully-fledged MAC member to show up at 3-1 overall (all games in league play.) NIU, at 6-2 (5-2 MAC), CMU (2-2, 2-1 MAC), Clarion (2-5, 2-4 MAC) sit at the middle of the league table at current, with SIU-Edwardsville (2-2, 0-1 MAC) at the bottom of teams who have hit the mat.

George Mason, Lock Haven and Ohio have yet to participate in a match in 2021.