MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - The Central Michigan volleyball team will travel 362 miles to Champaign, Ill., to compete in its first ever NCAA Tournament against the No. 3 seed, Illinois, on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
The winner of the CMU/Illinois match will play the winner of the Marquette/Western Kentucky match Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.
How to Watch -- The Big Ten Network online will be streaming the match live and free for fans whose cable companies carry the Big Ten Network. If your cable provider does not carry the Big Ten Network then fans can follow the match through the live video feed provided by Illinois. There will be no commentary for the feed provided by Illinois.
First Time For Everyone -- The Central Michigan volleyball team has never made it to the NCAA Tournament before. They got the bid by winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the first time in program history. The MAC has four teams in the tournament (Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Ball State), the first time the MAC has sent four teams in any sport.
#1... So What -- This will be the seventh time that Illinois and CMU has met up. The last two times they have squared off was back in 1982. The Fighting Illini is currently ranked No. 1 in the RPI poll and seventh in the AVCA Coaches poll.
1982 What a Year -- 1982 was the last time that CMU made it to a MAC Tournament Championship match. It was also the last time that the Chippewas and Fighting Illini faced one another. Ironically, the now CMU Senior Associate Athletic Director Marcy Weston, was head coach of that team and two of her players, Terri Phillion-Dulude (Lindsey Duludeʼs mother) and Denise Breslin-Gotham (Danielle Gothamʼs mother) currently have daughters on this yearʼs team.
Donʼt Count Us Out -- For the first time ever in CMU history the Chippewas won the 2011 MAC Tournament Championship. Seeded sixth, they defeated Western Michigan, the third seed, Ohio, the second seed, and Northern Illinois, the one seed. MAC Tournament Brings Firsts - In the MAC Tournament it was the first time the Maroon and Gold beat Western Michigan
since 2008. Head coach Erik Olson defeated Ohio for the first time in his career and the Chippewas recorded their first win over Northern Illinois this season. CMU finished the MAC Tournament with a 9-2 sets record.
MAC Holding Rankings -- The MAC is currently the seventh strongest conference in RPI rankings, which is the highest the MAC has ever been ranked.
Milestones -- Freshman Kaitlyn McIntyre set the all-time CMU freshman kill record with 400 kills thus far on the season over the weekend in California.
Schultz Shows Senior Leadership -- Schultz leads the team with a .414 hitting percentage, which is the second best in a season by a Chippewa. She also has tallied 1,193 total career kills placing her 10th in CMU history. Her 323 block assists has her fifth on the all-time block assist list.
NCAA Rankings -- Currently Schultz is ranked fifth in the country with a .414 hitting percentage, Maxwell sits 39th in assists per set at 10.96, and McIntyre is 139th in points per set at 3.95.
As a team the Chippewas are 68th in kills per set (13.5), 70th in assists per set (12.52) and 71st in hitting percentage (.232).
Mid-American Conference Rankings -- The Maroon and Gold finished the conference second in hitting percentage (.239), second in blocks (2.11), fourth in assists (12.77) and fourth in kills (13.70).
Schultz led the conference in hitting percentage at .451, was fourth in blocks with 1.05 per set and fifth in points per set at 4.11. Kelly Maxwell finished second in assists (11.45) while Jenna Coates is fifth in digs (4.58) and Kaitlyn McIntyre was seventh in kills (3.37).
Stopping the Illini -- Illinois enters the match with a 27-4 overall record and, a second place, 16-4 Big Ten Conference record. In the latest NCAA poll the Illini are ranked number three. They are out-hitting their opponents, .257 to .177, and out-blocking their opponents, 2.6 to 1.9.
Leading the offense is Michelle Bartsch and Colleen Ward who are averaging 3.86 and 3.66 kills respectively per set. Annie Luhrsen feeds the offense with 11.12 assists per set while Jennifer Beltran captains the defense with 4.05 digs per set. Anne Dorn and Erin Johnson both are averaging more then one block a set.
The Fighting Illini are currently ranked ninth in the country with a .862 win/loss percentage. They are 30th in blocks per set at 2.62, 31st in hitting percentage at .252, 60th in assists per set with 2.62 and 65th in kills per set at 13.52. Dorn is 28th in the country averaging 1.31 blocks per set, Luhrsen is 38th in the country in assists per set (10.96) while Bartsch is 62nd in points per set (4.42) and 68th in kills per set (3.85).