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UT wins, prepares for MAC Tourney

By Joe Mehling
On November 16, 2009

The Rockets spilt a set of away matches to end the regular season this weekend, falling to Ball State 3-0 on Friday but regrouping to defeat Buffalo 3-1 on Saturday.

With the win over Buffalo, Toledo finishes the season in a three-way tie for second place in the Mid-American Conference West Division with Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. This is the Rockets’ best finish since the conference went to a divisional format in 1997.

In order for Toledo to make a deep run into the tournament, they will have to finish out their matches, something they were unable to do in the 3-0 loss against Ball State.

The Rockets (8-8, 17-11 MAC) held a 17-12 lead in the first set against the Cardinals but couldn’t hold their lead as Ball State (7-9, 14-15) battled back and tied the game at 23. Junior Hannah Sullivan and sophomore Kelsey Brandl finished the match for BSU after each recorded a kill.

Toledo trailed much of the second set before taking the lead at 15-14 off a block from freshman middle blocker Bethany Irwin and sophomore setter Kassie Kadera. The Cardinals were able to rally back, taking a 21-18 lead, but the Rockets responded with a run of their own and tied the game at 23 following a kill from sophomore OH Amber DeWeerdt. Ball State took the set 25-23 with two-straight points.

The third set was all Cardinals after an early five-point run gave BSU a 15-13 advantage. Toledo was unable to regain the lead and dropped the set 25-18.

The Rockets then traveled to Buffalo to take on the Bulls on Saturday. Toledo scored the first six points of the match and took the first set 25-20. In the second set, the Rockets once again jumped out to an early lead, 12-4, but the Bulls returned fire and trailed by just one after a four-point rally. Toledo responded by taking nine of the last 10 points to seal the second set.

After Buffalo (5-11, 15-15) took the third set, the Rockets returned to form and once again took control early with an 11-6 advantage and never looked back.

Senior MB Sarah Wilson tallied a team-high 12 kills and a .385 attack percentage, while senior MB Liz Sundburg notched 10 kills and a team-best .529 hitting mark.

“It’s always good to end your regular season with a win, especially on the road,” said Toledo Head Coach Greg Smith. “We’re really proud of how hard the team has worked the last three months. We’ve developed a great deal as a team and made a lot of adjustments and improvements along the way.”

Toledo is the sixth seed in the conference tournament and will host No. 11 Bowling Green in a first-round contest on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face No. 2 Western Michigan in the MAC Quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 20 at 1:30 p.m. at the Seagate Center in Toledo.

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