Rockets to Battle Eastern Michigan in MAC Quarterfinals on Friday at Spire Institute
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo (19-11, 12-4 MAC) continues its best season in the school’s 34-year program history when it heads to Geneva, OH for the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The Rockets will open play at the SPIRE Institute on Friday, Nov. 22 at 5:00 p.m. with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 seed Eastern Michigan (16-15, 6-10 MAC). UT earned the No. 2 seed for the tourney by claiming a share of the MAC West Division title and winning the tiebreaker with Ball State due to a head-to-head sweep of the Cardinals.
All matches will be streamed live on mac-sports.com with Sunday’s championship contest also being televised by Time Warner Cable SportsChannel. All-tournament tickets can be purchased for $30.00 and $20.00 for students. Single-day tickets are available for $15.00 for adults and $7.00 for students.
Toledo split its season series with the Eagles, as both teams posted 3-1 triumphs on their homecourt. If UT advances past EMU, it would face either Ball State or Western Michigan in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 5:00 p.m.
The Rockets set a school record this season with their 12 league victories and their West Division crown was the first MAC title of any kind for UT.
Toledo split a pair of road contests last weekend with an incredible 3-2 comeback win over WMU on Friday and a 3-0 setback to NIU on Saturday. The Rockets’ win over the Broncos kept their perfect record in five-set contests intact as UT has won all 10 of those affairs, including six in league play.
The Rockets were down 2-0 against the Broncos before rallying to send the match to a fifth set. Toledo then fell behind 14-7 in Set 5 but scored nine straight points to capture the win. Senior RSH Becca Reidy paced UT offensively by tying her career high with a .500 attack percentage on 15-0-30 totals.
Reidy along with MB Dakota Harkins, OH Jordan Kielty, S Adria Pryor and OH Lauren Rafdal — 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, who dropped their first two league matches at CMU and EMU, have won 12 of their last 14 MAC contests and had a school-record eight-match conference win streak end with their loss at Northern Illinois.
Rafdal leads the MAC in kills per set in both overall (3.97) and league (4.27) play, while Harkins is averaging a team-high 0.97 blocks per set along with a squad-best .343 hitting mark. Pryor is serving as the quarterback of UT’s offense and is averaging 10.75 assists per set. In conference action, she notched a league-best 11.52 assists per set.
Freshman libero Ellen Hays is pacing Toledo defensively in the back row with 4.53 digs per set to rank eighth in the loop.
MAC TOURNAMENT TALK
Toledo is playing in the MAC Quarterfinals for the seventh time in school history.
The last time UT appeared in the quarters was in 2010 was when the Rockets bounced No. 1 seed Ball State before falling to Northern Illinois, 3-1, in the semifinals.
UT’s previous two quarterfinal victories came as the No. 5 seed vs. Western Michigan in 2005 and as the No. 11 seed vs. Northern Illinois in 2006.
ROCKETS IN MAC TOURNAMENT
All-Time Record: 7-11
Home: 3-1 Away: 1-5
First Round Record: 4-4
Quarterfinal Record: 3-3
Semifinal Record: 0-4
Toledo’s MAC West Division title is its first in school history and its .633 winning percentage is just ahead of UT’s school-record .628 success rate (27-16) in the 1983 campaign.
Since the MAC split into two divisions in 1997, UT’s best showing in the West was tied for second place with an 8-8 mark in Head Coach Greg Smith’s first season.
Prior to this season, the Rockets had posted just two winning MAC records — 10-8 in 2001 and 9-7 in 2005 — in the program’s 33-year existence.
One of the keys to Toledo’s success this season has been its ability to produce under pressure.
The Rockets are an amazing 10-0 (6-0 in MAC play) in five-set matches.
Three of UT’s marathon wins came after dropping the first two sets with four more coming after Toledo had fallen behind 2-1.
A LOOK AT EASTERN MICHIGAN
The Eagles snapped a four-match losing streak with road wins at CMU and Kent State last week to earn a berth into postseason play.
EMU features a balanced offensive attack with four Eagles tallying two or more kills per set led by sophomore OH Stacey Perinar’s 2.65 kps. Sophomore libero Corynne Smith leads EMU’s defense, ranking second in the MAC with 5.42 dps.
A LOOK AT BALL STATE
The Cardinals earned a share of the MAC West Division title after gaining a pair of road wins last weekend over NIU and WMU.
The Cardinals lead the MAC in kills per set (14.83), assists per set (13.95) and opponent attack percentage (.157) and rank second in digs per set (16.77).
Individually, sophomore MB Hayley Benson tops the conference with a .359 hitting mark with senior MB Mindy Marx right behind her in third place with a .355 clip.
Also appearing in the Top Five are sophomore OH Alex Fuelling (T-2nd with 0.30 saps & 3rd with 3.70 kps) and senior libero Catie Fredrich (5th with 4.76 dps).
A LOOK AT WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Broncos ended the season with a pair of home setbacks to Toledo and Ball State to fall to the No. 6 seed for the MAC Tournament. WMU is one of the top offensive teams in the MAC, ranking third with a .236 attack percentage and 13.59 kps.
Junior S Lexie Pawlik leads the MAC with 11.17 aps, while junior libero Lena Oliver is fourth with 4.85 dps. Sophomore MB Stephenee Yancy ranks seventh in the MAC with a .329 ATK% with freshman MB Ave Stout just behind her in eighth place with a .325 clip. Yancy is also sixth in the league with 3.39 kps.
UT VS. EMU, BSU & WMU
Toledo trails its all-time series vs. EMU by a 45-13 margin. The Rockets split their season series this year with the Eagles with both squads posting 3-1 victories on their homecourt.
UT possesses a 7-57 all-time win-loss mark vs. Ball State and swept its season series vs. the Cardinals for the first time ever this year. A big win for the Rockets en route to their division title was a 3-2 win in Muncie on Nov. 7 that saw the Rockets rally from a 2-0 deficit.
Toledo trails its all-time series vs. the Broncos by a 46-11 margin but swept their season series and posted their first win ever in Kalamazoo.
ROCKETS IN THE RPI
Following its road victories over Ball State and Buffalo two weeks ago, Toledo broke into the Top 100 of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball RPI Rankings.
The Rockets are ranked at No. 91 (out of 332 programs) this week with Ohio topping the MAC at No. 37. Other conference schools appearing in the Top 100 are No. 63 Ball State, No. 74 Northern Illinois, No. 77 Bowling Green and No. 92 Western Michigan.
ROCKETS IN MAC RANKINGS
Senior OH Lauren Rafdal ranks first with 3.97 kps, just ahead of CMU’s Kaitlyn McIntyre (3.93)...Senior S Adria Pryor ranks third with 10.75 aps...Senior MB Dakota Harkins is sixth with a .341 ATK%... Freshman L Ellen Hays ranks eighth with 4.53 dps and is first among all freshmen.
ROCKETS IN MAC RANKINGS (LEAGUE MATCHES ONLY)
Senior OH Lauren Rafdal ranked first with 4.27 kps and was the only player in the MAC to top 4.0 kps...Senior S Adria Pryor led the league with 11.52 aps...Junior MB Brooke Frazer and senior MB Dakota Harkins ranked fifth and sixth with .337 and .332 ATK%s, respectively...Freshman L Ellen Hays tied for seventh with 4.99 dps and was first among all freshmen.
RAFDAL BRINGING THE HAMMER
Senior OH Lauren Rafdal has topped the Rockets in kills in 24 of their 30 matches, including 15 of the last 16 contests. She is averaging a MAC-best 3.97 kps to go along with a .188 attack percentage. She also tops the MAC in league play with an even better 4.27 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 1,203 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 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 2.26 digs per set and posted a career high in two of her last five 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 a team-best 0.97 bps and has registered three or more blocks in 22 of 30 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 .341 attack percentage that would break her own school record of .321 in 2011, Harkins is UT’s all-time leader with a .315 career hitting mark and 0.95 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 10.75 aps and tops the MAC in league play with 11.52 aps.
She also ranks second on the team with 2.37 dps and tallied a career-high seven blocks vs. Ball State (Oct. 3).
Pryor also has become efficient as an attacker with a .314 attack percentage. In her last 11 matches, the Greenwood, IN native has been even better with a .344 hitting mark on 27-5-64 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 impacted UT’s defensive fortunes this season by immediately taking the reins as the team’s libero. Hays is tied for seventh in league action with 4.99 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 has set the school record for most digs (543) in a season and has 20 or more digs in 11 matches this season.