BREAKING: Volleyball team wins Mid-American Conference championship
GENEVA, Ohio — The Central Michigan volleyball team is at its highest peak right now.
The Chippewas claimed their first-ever Mid-American Conference championship with a five-set win over No. 1 Northern Illinois on Sunday.
“This is ours, it is what the team kept saying going into every timeout and every break,” said eight-year head coach Erik Olson. “This win puts CMU on the volleyball map with our first championship in history.”
CMU took a 2-0 match lead into the break, but the No. 16 team in the nation evened it up, sending it into a fifth and deciding set.
The Chippewas had the chance to win it in set four, but allowed NIU to take it into that final set.
“I was a little uneasy on the bench going into game five, but the players were on a mission,” Olson said.
The Chippewas made it theirs after one final kill by freshman outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre. She led the team with 19 kills and a .385 hitting average.
“We passed really well and played good enough defense,” McIntyre said. “Kelly (Maxwell) had some really good passes and let me go up there and do my thing.”
Maxwell ran the offense through the good and the bad on the day, finishing the match with 59 assists and was an All-MAC Tournament Team selection.
“Our whole team was on fire tonight,” Maxwell said. “We always talk about how we have to put everything together and this was the time to do it and we did.”
The regular season isn’t over. CMU travels to California next weekend, taking on Long Beach State and UC-Irvine, before finding out who it will play in two weeks to start off the NCAA Tournament.
“First time we’re (CMU) going to the NCAA Tournament and we’re really excited,” said sophomore libero Jenna Coates. “We don’t know who we’re playing, but it’s an awesome feeling.”
The Chippewas didn’t beat NIU in its first two meetings of the season, but had the last laugh in the MAC Tournament.
CMU opened the tournament against No. 3 Western Michigan and swept the Broncos after losing the first two times it faced them too.
The team swept No. 2 Ohio in the semifinals. The Bobcats beat CMU during the regular season. It made a run through the top three teams in the MAC on its way to being the top team in the MAC.
It was the first appearance in the MAC championship game since 1982. Senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Schultz was also awarded to the MAC All-Tournament team.
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