MAC preview: volleyball

Tom Crilley

Returning Volleyball Champion: Ohio Bobcats

The Bobcats look to make their eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this season. However, Ohio has to fill the void left by a senior class that won 111 games over the past four seasons. What the team didn’t lose is two-time All-MAC setter Michelle Jantsch and first team All-MAC outside hitter Sue Jacobi. Having these two seniors on the Bobcat’s side of the net is what gives this team its best shot at winning its seventh MAC championship in eight years.

Top Challenger: Central Michigan Chippewas

The Chippewas have finished second in the west division for the last three years, and they’ll try to finally get over the hump by beating Western Michigan in its division to compete for a chance to win the MAC Championship. While the Chippewas are sporting a 6-6 record right now, some of the team’s losses have been against top-tier opponents such as Northern Iowa, Purdue and Wisconsin.

The Dark Horse: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan is in the conversation after beating Michigan State, a team that received votes in the top-25 poll. The Eagles were one of the youngest teams in the MAC last year and managed only five wins. This year, however, 11 letter-winners have returned and the team is sitting with a 12-3 record heading into its conference opener against Central Michigan.

Players to Watch: Lauren Krupsky (senior, Central Michigan, left), Sue Jacobi (senior, Ohio)

First-team, all-conference senior Krupsky out of Central Michigan and Jacobi from Ohio could be the most valuable players at season’s end. Krupsky recorded 413 kills in 2009 and is leading the Chippewas with 157 this season, while Jacobi has a staggering 217 kills and 133 digs already in 2010.

Where The Flashes Stand:

The season is still up in the air for Kent State. The team has a 7-8 record and is looking to prove that it can compete for a championship. The Flashes haven’t been picked as a team to watch in the MAC, but the players think otherwise. Trust has been the theme for the Flashes this season. The players have repeatedly said when they trust each other and perform at their highest level; they win.

Contact Tom Crilley at [email protected].