Volleyball starts MAC play with two key matchups
Mid-American Conference play starts for the volleyball team today when it hosts defending regular season champion Northern Illinois.
Following the MAC-opener, Central Michigan will take on MAC West favorite Western Michigan.
“We’re really excited to be starting MAC (play),” sophomore middle blocker Danielle Gotham said. “We’ve been looking forward to this, and they’re both home games, so it’s nice to have an advantage.”
CMU starts the weekend at 7 p.m. today with the Huskies in McGuirk Arena.
NIU might be the defending regular season champions, but the team is nowhere near the same as it was last year. Back-to-back MAC Player of the Year, junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, transferred from the Huskies to Michigan State this offseason.
“They had a really good group last year and have some core returners,” head coach Erik Olson said. “They have that ‘hey, we’re Northern (Illinois), and we expect to win’ (mentality), but they’ve done more of their fair share of losing.”
The Chippewas finish the weekend at 7 p.m. on Saturday with the rival Broncos. WMU took both regular season matches with CMU last season and return most of their starters from last year’s team.
“Western (Michigan) looks like Western – they return everyone,” Olson said. “They are great defensively and fast in transition.”
With the Huskies being without two starters from the 2011-12 season and a matchup with the Broncos right after, it would be hard to overlook that opening match.
But Olson insists his team isn’t taking NIU lightly.
“I haven’t heard a single word of Western this week,” Olson said. “They know the name Northern (Illinois) is a big deal … when I start thinking about Western, I’ll be very concerned about them, and we’ll put our best foot forward.”
CMU hopes to have junior setter Kelly Maxwell back this weekend after sitting out of the team’s 3-1 loss to IPFW.
“I would list (Maxwell) as a probable starter,” Olson said.
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