PREVIEW: SMAC Volleyball Rivals Collide to Start District Tournament

10-30 volleyball

Listen live online Monday evening on the Slocum Sports Network to the first round District #1 volleyball matches from Kalamazoo Central High School.   The first match, set for 5:30 p.m., features the Mattawan Wildcats against the Portage Northern Huskies.   The match to follow has the hosting Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants and Portage Central Mustangs.   All four SMAC members enter with winning records and strong programs.

Mattawan enters as the favorite coming off Saturday’s SMAC tournament championship, defeating Portage Central in the final match.   At 33-7 according to Maxpreps, the Wildcats received a honorable mention in last week’s Class A Coaches Association poll and have been in the top ten at other points in the season.    Mattawan was eliminated by Portage Central in last season’s district tournament.  Two seasons ago, the Wildcats made it to the quarterfinal for the first time in program history.

Portage Northern entered last weekend at 26-21 and has significantly improved from their recent down seasons.   The Huskies are looking for their first postseason victory since 2010.   They were knocked out in last year’s district tournament by Portage Central.   The last Portage Northern district championship came in 2007, with a trip to the quarterfinal that season.   The Huskies were once a Class A powerhouse, winning 10 state championships in the 1980s and 90s.

Portage Central entered last weekend at 26-14 and is the defending district champion, getting as far the quarterfinal last season where they fell to Class A runner-up Rockford in five sets.   The Mustang senior class is looking to claim their third district title in their four seasons.  The school’s deepest run was a runner-up finish in 2009.

Kalamazoo Central took a 30-13-1 mark into the weekend and were knocked out by Niles in last season’s district tournament.   Their last postseason victory came in 2013 with their most recent district championship in 2002.   The Maroon Giants’ deepest run was a state title in 1996.

Monday’s winners move to Wednesday’s district semifinals.   The Mattawan/Portage Northern winner plays Lakeshore (4-23-1) at 5:30 p.m. with the Portage Central/Kalamazoo Central winner meeting St. Joseph (15-23-0) in the following match.   The district championship is Thursday at 6 p.m. with all of the matches at Kalamazoo Central.

You can listen to Monday’s first round matches, as well as Thursday’s district championship, live online via the Slocum Sports Network.   The action begins Monday at 5:30 p.m. between Mattawan and Portage Northern with the Portage Central and Kalamazoo Central match to follow.   The bracket can be found here via MHSAA.

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