April 24, 2014
DeKALB, Ill. - The top-seeded Huskies are competing in the MAC Championship Tournament this weekend, hosted by Ball State in Muncie, Ind. In the first round, NIU will face No. 4 Buffalo (11-7, 1-3 MAC) on Friday, April 25 at 9:00 a.m. central time. If the Huskies win on Friday, they'll take on either No. 2 Toledo (9-17, 2-2 MAC) or No. 3 Ball State (12-11, 2-2 MAC) on Saturday, April 26 in the championship round.
Last weekend, the Huskies played their final regular season game of 2014 at home against Buffalo. With wins in the No. 3 through 6 matches and the claiming of the doubles point, NIU took the match 5-2. The win completed a flawless MAC record for the team at 4-0. NIU finished this spring 18-5 overall.
The Huskies come into the tournament with an excellent spring season behind them. In singles, the team posted a winning record at all positions. They were especially tough in the No. 3 and No. 6, going 17-4 and 21-2 respectively on the whole. In doubles, NIU went 18-3 in No. 1 matches, and Axel Lagerlof and Dor Amir were responsible for most of that, producing a record of 18-2 together this spring. NIU players were frequently recognized by the MAC this year, as all but one member of team received a weekly award.
Buffalo started its season very strong, but the team hit a bit of a rough patch to end it. The Bulls won six of their first seven matches this spring. Since then, they've gone 5-6 with a 1-3 mark in the MAC. Buffalo has played many close matches this season. All but three of their wins were by way of a 4-3 final.
2014 was a season of runs for Toledo. To begin the year, the Rockets lost seven straight. They rebounded by winning four of its next five. Poor times followed, as the Rockets then dropped seven of their next eight. They proceeded to get catch fire down the stretch, winning their next four before dropping the final two matches of the season. They ended up 2-2 in MAC play, earning the second seed in the tournament.
Ball State had a tough schedule this season, facing three teams ranked among the top 20 in the nation. When the end of the season and MAC play came around, the Cardinals got hot. They won four of their last five matches to end the season, earning a spot in the MAC Championship Tournament as the third seed.
NIU has competed in every MAC Championship Tournament since 1999, but a win in the final round has escaped the team. The Huskies will look to change that this year with a win in the tournament for the first time in program history. With two wins this weekend, not only would the Huskies be MAC Champions, but they would also gain admittance into the NCAA Tournament. That will start on Thursday, May 15 in Athens, Ga.