Volleyball Broncos win MAC championship
Nov. 26, 2000
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University will be adding to its championship banners in University Arena. On Saturday (Nov. 25), the volleyball Broncos won their eighth Mid-American Conference championship and their first since 1988.
Western Michigan (25-5 overall, 17-1 MAC) earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament and will play the University of Northern Iowa (26-4 overall, 18-0 Missouri Valley Conference) in the tournament first round. That match is scheduled for a 5 p.m. CST start on Friday, Dec. 1, at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison.
Playing on their home court, Western Michigan defeated Northern Illinois, 3-0, in a MAC semifinal match played on Friday night (Nov. 24), and defeated Ball State, 3-1, for the title on Saturday. In a tournament characterized by marathon slugfest matches, the fourth and deciding game of the championship match was a rout. WMU won the fourth game, 15-3, hit an incredible .700 as a team on 14 kills with no errors, and held Ball State to a .000 hitting percentage.
In the championship match, WMU had 21.0 team blocks (seven solo blocks and 28 assists), tying the MAC Tournament record set in 1987. For the entire tournament, Western hit .333 as a team, which ranks second in tournament history.
Bronco head coach Cathy George will not likely forget her 300th career coaching victory. It was the MAC championship match.
Junior middle blocker Zakiya Pope and senior outside hitter Alberta Griffin were named to the All-Tournament Team. Pope was the tournament's most-valuable player.
On Friday, four Broncos were named to MAC All-Conference Teams for the 2000 season. Junior outside hitter M'Myia McQuirter was selected for the honorable mention team, sophomore setter Ashley Ritter was chosen for the All-MAC Second Team, and Pope and senior outside hitter Monyka Paul were MAC First-Team selections. This is the second consecutive year that two Broncos have been chosen for the six-player all-conference first team.
Returning to the top of the MAC
In 1988, Western Michigan University won its seventh consecutive Mid-American Conference volleyball championship. Bronco faithful would wait another 12 years for MAC championship number eight.
The Broncos won the 2000 MAC title the old fashioned way. They earned it -- and not just this season. For the past five years, the WMU volleyball team has been steadily improving and clawing its way back to the top of the Mid-American Conference.
In 1996, the Broncos carded their first winning record (10-7) in the MAC in four years. The 1997 squad earned the team's first tournament appearance in five seasons. The 11-7 MAC record of the 1998 Broncos was the team's best in seven years. That team also earned a tournament berth.
The 1999 Broncos won 25 matches overall (the most since 1987) and 15 in the conference (the most since 1986). The '99 team also carded the first MAC Tournament victory for a Bronco volleyball team since 1989 and advanced to the MAC championship match.
In 2000, the volleyball Broncos notched their second consecutive 25-win season and compiled a regular season conference record of 17-1. They won the MAC West Division title, earned the No. 1 seed and home court throughout the MAC Tournament, and won the Mid-American Conference championship. As it turned out, the only way they could accomplish all of that was to win 19 consecutive matches -- and that is exactly what they did. It ranks as the second-longest winning streak in school history and is among the longest active streaks in the nation.
On a weekend when WMU was closed for Thanksgiving recess and most of the University's students were home for the holiday, 1,024 fans watched the Broncos defeat Northern Illinois in the semifinals, and 1,549 fans rocked the arena as WMU beat Ball State on Saturday night. The Broncos averaged more than 1,000 fans at their 15 home matches and will likely rank among the top 25 attendance teams in the nation for the 2000 season.
For more Bronco sports news and to follow Western Michigan University in the 2000 NCAA Tournament, visit the Broncos on the Web at <wmubroncos.com>.
Media contact: Thom Myers, 616 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org