Toledo Travels to WMU and NIU This Weekend Looking to Capture First MAC West Division Title
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo (18-10, 11-3 MAC) looks to capture its first Mid-American Conference West Division title in program history when it concludes its 2013 regular season this weekend. The Rockets will be on the road for a pair of tilts against the two teams tied for third place in the West Division, Western Michigan (16-11, 9-5 MAC) and Northern Illinois (17-11, 9-5 MAC).
UT will battle the Broncos on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. in Kalamazoo, MI before heading to DeKalb, IL to meet the Huskies on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 6:00 p.m. CT.
Toledo moved into first place in the West Division last weekend with a pair of 3-2 road victories over Ball State and Buffalo. The two victories moved the Rockets’ record in five-set matches to a perfect 9-0.
Junior MB Brooke Frazer sparked the Rockets to their win over the Cardinals by establishing new career highs for kills (14) and blocks (11) and notching a .433 attack percentage. Frazer was part of a season-best 18-block performance by UT that equal the second-most in a conference contest this season.
She then garnered 10 kills and a team-high five rejections against the Bulls and was honored for her efforts with MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week.
Four Rockets tallied double-digit kill totals against both Ball State and Buffalo with senior OH Lauren Rafdal pacing UT with 21 and 18 terminations, respectively.
Rafdal along with MB Dakota Harkins, OH Jordan Kielty, S Adria Pryor and RSH Becca Reidy — make up a senior class that has UT on the verge of its best season ever. The quintet represents Head Coach Greg Smith’s first recruiting class after he assumed leadership of the program in May 2009.
The Rockets have won 11 of their last MAC 12 contests and have set a school record with 11 league victories. UT also holds the MAC’s longest current win streak at seven and handed Ball State two of its four league setbacks this season.
Rafdal leads the MAC in kills per set in both overall (4.00) and league (4.37) play, while Harkins is averaging a team-high 1.02 blocks per set along with a squad-best .339 hitting mark. Pryor is serving as the quarterback of UT’s offense and averaging 10.69 assists per set. In conference action, she has notched a league-best 11.53 assists per set.
Hays is pacing Toledo defensively in the back row with 4.56 digs per set to rank seventh in the loop.
ROCKETS RETURNING TO POSTSEASON PLAY
Toledo secured one of eight spots in the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament with two weekends to play. The Rockets are one of six squads to have clinched a berth with Ball State, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, Ohio and Western Michigan also having done so.
UT is currently the No. 2 seed for the tournament with the Bobcats sitting at No. 1 and Cardinals at No. 3. If the season ended today, the remaining seedings would be No. 4 Northern Illinois, No. 5 Bowling Green, No. 6 Western Michigan, No. 7 Kent State and No. 8 Central Michigan.
Toledo’s last appearance in the league tourney was in 2010 when it advanced to the semifinals. The Rockets swept No. 1 seed Ball State in the quarterfinals before falling to Northern Illinois, 3-1, in the semifinals.
A LOOK AT WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Broncos are the defending West Division champions and bring a three-match win streak into Friday’s contest.
WMU is one of the top offensive teams in the MAC, ranking third with a .237 attack percentage and third with 13.65 kills per set.
Junior S Lexie Pawlik leads the MAC with 11.16 assists per set, while junior libero Lena Oliver is fourth with 4.93 digs per set.
Freshman MB Ave Stout ranks seventh in the MAC with a .334 with sophomore MB Stephenee Yancy just behind her in eighth place with a .329 clip. Yancy is also sixth in the league with 3.39 kills per set.
A LOOK AT NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Northern Illinois brings a five-match win streak into Friday’s home date vs. Ball State before hosting the Rockets on Saturday.
The Huskies, who reached the 2012 MAC Championship match and captured the 2011 regular-season title, rank fifth in the MAC with a .209 attack percentage and .187 opponent hitting mark
Junior OH Mackenzie Roddy is fifth in the conference with 3.42 kps, while sophomore S Alexis Gonzalez is seventh with 9.34 aps.
UT VS. THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
Toledo trails its all-time series vs. the Broncos by a 46-10 margin. UT is looking to post its first win ever in Kalamazoo but snapped a four-match losing streak to WMU on Oct. 12.
The Rockets have dropped 13 of their last 14 meetings vs. WMU.
Northern Illinois holds a 34-10 advantage over Toledo and has not lost a match to the Rockets in DeKalb since 2005.
ROCKETS IN THE RPI
Following last weekend’s two road victories, Toledo broke into the Top 100 of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball RPI Rankings released earlier this week.
The Rockets are ranked at No. 87 (out of 332 programs) with Ohio topping the MAC at No. 35. Other conference schools appearing in the Top 100 are No. 66 Ball State, No. 73 Bowling Green, No. 79 Northern Illinois and No. 93 Western Michigan.
ROCKETS IN MAC RANKINGS
Senior OH Lauren Rafdal ranks first with 4.00 kps, just ahead of CMU’s Kaitlyn McIntyre (3.94)...Senior S Adria Pryor ranks third with 10.69 aps...Freshman L Ellen Hays ranks seventh with 4.56 dps and is first among all freshmen...Senior MB Dakota Harkins is fifth with a .339 ATK% and is eighth with 1.02 bps.
RAFDAL BRINGING THE HAMMER
Senior OH Lauren Rafdal has topped the Rockets in kills in 23 of their 28 matches, including each of the last 14 contests. She is averaging a MAC-best 4.00 kps to go along with a .189 attack percentage. She also tops the MAC in league play with an even better 4.37 kps.
Rafdal registered three of her top career performances earlier this season. She also became the ninth Rocket ever to tally 1,000 career kills when she garnered 27 terminations against Northern Illinois on Oct. 11.
A Westfield, IN native who ranks sixth at UT with 1,175 kills, Rafdal tallied a career-high 28 terminations and a .300 ATK% vs. Ball State on Oct. 3, two shy of the school record. Against Akron on Oct. 5, she tallied a career-best .500 ATK% with 18-1-30 totals.
Rafdal was named MAC West Offensive Player of the Week for her performance against the Cardinals and Zips.
Rafdal also has the top two kill totals in the MAC this season with 28 kills vs. the Cardinals and 27 vs. NIU. She is averaging 2.22 digs per set and posted a career high in two of her last three matches with 19 vs. CMU on Nov. 2 and 21 at Buffalo on Nov. 9.
HARKINS PUTTING UP ROOF
Senior MB Dakota Harkins has continued her prowess as one of the MAC’s top blockers and was selected to three all-tournament teams prior to the start of league play.
A 2012 Second-Team All-MAC honoree, Harkins is averaging 1.02 bps and has registered three or more blocks in 22 of 28 contests.
A Canal Fulton, OH native, Harkins tallied a season-high 12 blocks (one shy of her career best) at Kent State on Oct. 19. She also has garnered eight rejections at Youngstown State, seven vs. Loyola (IL) and six against Eastern Illinois.
The team leader with a .339 attack percentage that would break her own school record of .321 in 2011, Harkins is UT’s all-time leader with a .313 career hitting mark and 0.99 bps.
Harkins tied her career high with 16 kills along with a .500 attack percentage in 3-1 win over Eastern Michigan on Nov. 1.
PRYOR SETTING THE TONE
Senior S Adria Pryor has quarterbacked the Rockets’ offense since the start of the 2012 campaign. Pryor is averaging 10.69 aps and tops the MAC in league play with 11.69 aps.
She also ranks second on the team with 2.38 dps and tallied a career-high seven blocks vs. Ball State (Oct. 3).
Pryor also has become efficient as an attacker with a .318 attack percentage. In her last nine matches, the Greenwood, IN native has been even better with a .375 hitting mark on 24-3-56 totals.
Pryor was also named MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 28 after averaging 12.75 assists per set, 2.25 digs and 0.75 blocks per set as well as a .500 attack percentage to lead UT to 3-1 home triumphs over Miami and Bowling Green.
HAYS DIGGING IT
Freshman L Ellen Hays has UT’s defensive fortunes this season by immediately taking the reins as the team’s libero. Hays ranks seventh in league action with 5.12 dps and played a key role in UT’s win over West leader Ball State on Oct. 3 with a career-high 31 digs.
The Temperance, MI native received MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors after averaging 5.00 dps the week of Oct. 7-13.
Hays set the school record for most digs (511) in a season in school history when she tallied 22 in a 3-2 win at Buffalo on Nov. 9. She has 20 more in 11 matches this season, including UT’s four contests.
A LOOK AHEAD
Toledo will head to the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament to be held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, OH next weekend.
The quarterfinals will be held on Friday, Nov. 22 with the semifinals on taking place on Saturday, Nov. 23.
The championship match is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1:00 p.m.