WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Coaches await vote on MAC Tournament

Athletic directors could change format of tournament with vote on Friday

With the power to make the decision out of their hands, Mid-American Conference women's volleyball coaches can only wait.

"We're at the mercy of the athletic directors now," Miami coach Carolyn Condit said. "We can't make recommendations. All we can do is give feedback and support."

Athletic directors will vote Friday on changes to the format of the MAC women's volleyball tournament. Right now the tournament allows all 12 teams to participate.

Discussions of format changes began after a committee was formed in the fall to evaluate how to make the MAC a stronger volleyball conference.

"The MAC's RPI [Ratings Percentage Index] as a conference in volleyball is the highest of any sport," Condit said. "That makes us a special sport. We're ahead of both [men's and women's] basketballs this year by being ranked 10th as a conference."

Previous formats of the MAC Tournament allowed eight teams to participate. A return to such a format is possible.

"As a coach, I favor the 12-team format," Bowling Green coach Denise Van De Walle said. "The RPI of the conference has gotten much better since we last visited and made a change to include everyone. Everyone getting into the tournament makes for the most exciting format."

Condit said this year's tournament could serve as an example of how exciting the tournament can be with multiple upsets in the first round and quarterfinals. Condit's Miami team, an 11 seed, upset its way to the semi-finals before Ohio ended their run in November.

Condit has been on the other side however. She's had highly seeded Miami teams upset in the tournament, ending the season abruptly.

Ball State coach Steve Shondell was not made available to comment on his preferences despite being outspoken about rewarding the regular season conference champion.

Multiple coaches said they would be in favor of not making a change to the number of teams participating in the tournament. Most said they would prefer to see a 12-team tournament but would support an eight-team format if the decision to contract were made.

"I'm not a fan of the six-team format," Eastern Michigan coach Kim Berrington said. "I'm not comfortable with eliminating half the conference from the tournament. Eight is better than six. At the same time I wasn't a fan of going to 12 teams when we did, but we wanted to reward all the players. At the time we were trying to build the MAC and be fan and player friendly."

Berrington supports the eight-team format to make teams earn a position in the conference tournament through regular season success. Condit said she would support the eight-team format if the current 12-team format were to be voted down.

"Going from eight teams to 12 picked up conference moral and gave everyone something to play for," Condit said. "If we have to down size let's go to eight teams and look at reseeding based on record and not by winning the division and then record."

It is unknown if the MAC will announce the results of the athletic directors vote Friday. On Monday assistant commissioner for championship and sport programs Jeff Bacon said the MAC anticipated an official announcement in a month.

However, the MAC is also in separate discussions in moving the location of the tournament from the SeaGate Centre in Toledo, Ohio, to a new facility 45 minutes from Cleveland and close to Erie, Pa.


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