2017 MAC Conference Championship Tournament Kicks Off on Thursday

  0 Braden Keith | November 12th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News

2017 MAC Volleyball Championship Tournament

Miami and Bowling Green, by virtue of sharing the best record in the  the Mid-American Conference regular season at 13-3, will receive a significant advantage in the upcoming conference championship tournament. That is to say – they get a free pass to the semi-finals of the 4-round conference championship tournament, meaning that they will rest until Saturday, while their opponents will have to play at least 1, if not 2, games to get to the same point.

While the MAC keeps standings separately in an East and West Division, the best overall records receive the top two seeds. The post-season tournament will determine who gets the automatic, and likely only, bid out of the conference to this year’s NCAA Championship Tournament.

8 out of 12 teams qualify for the MAC tournament, but rather than play a simple 8-team bracket, the conference makes the bottom 4 seeds (Buffalo, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Eastern Michigan) play in an opening round. The winners of those games will earn the right to play either #3 seed Ball State or #4 seed Ohio in the quarterfinals, with the winner again advancing to play #1 Miami or #2 Bowling Green in the semi-finals.

The top 2 seeds, Miami and Bowling Green, split their season series in 2017. Miami won the first game in September 3-1 at home, and then Bowling Green defended their home court just a few weeks ago at home by the same 3-1 score.

The two teams have relied heavily on defense during the MAC season so far. They both allowed conference opponents to just .140 hitting percentage this season. Bowling Green leads the conference with 2.67 blocks/set in MAC play this year, and is also tops with 20.95 digs/set in conference games.

Miami will have the home-court advantage in the tournament this year. The largest-ever volleyball crowd in Millett Hall history came in the final of the 1995 Mid-American Conference Volleyball Championship.

If there’s one team capable of upsetting the top two, who were dominant in the regular season, it’s their East Division rival the Ohio Bobcats. Ohio was the only team to beat both Miami and Bowling Green this season, taking a 3-2 victory over Miami in late September and beating Bowling Green 3-2 in early November. While Ohio’s offense finished near the bottom of the conference in hitting percentage (.174) and blocks (1.88/set), they led the conference in MAC play with 1.68 aces/set.

They’ve also got the best freshman in the conference, Tia Jimerson. The 6’3″ middle blocker ranks 1st among all players in MAC play in hitting percentage (.366) and ranks 4th in kills/set (3.70). That’s a better offensive output than anybody on either Miami or Bowling Green State’s roster.

They’ve also found ways to win in spite of their overall offensive struggles. Ohio beat Miami in spite of hitting just .076. They hit just .146 in their win over Bowling Green State.

But with the advantage of a week of rest, plus their demonstrated quality, Bowling Green State and Miami are the favorites.

VolleyMob Prediction

Given their equal outcomes in the regular season, we expect the championship game, if it does come down to Miami vs. Bowling Green, to be a closely=matched contest. What this game will come down to is Miami’s offense, which has a few more weapons than does Bowling Green’s, and whether they can overcome the lethal Bowling Green service game (136 aces this season, vs. just 69 for Miami).

The key player in the match will be Bowling Green junior outside hitter Isabel Kovacic. She’s only played in 12 games this season, but has been strong late in the season. She had 15 kills in Miami and Bowling Green’s 2nd game of the season (she had none and played only 1 set in the first game), and that proved to be the difference.

We like Bowling Green State to win the MAC tournament title 3-2 over Miami.

Bracket (with times, all E.T.)



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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of VolleyMob.com. Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined SwimSwam.com as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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