Volleyball will be on the road this weekend and will attempt to snap a three-match losing streak at Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
This week will be the third and fourth of Central Michigan’s five-match road trip, which started with the team in first place in the Mid-American Conference West Division.
After dropping to one game back, the team will travel to Kalamazoo at 7 p.m. on Today to take on the first-place Broncos. The Chippewas then play the Huskies at 7 p.m. Saturday in Dekalb, Ill., who share a 6-4 conference record.
“The rest of the MAC season is going to be very important in regards to seeding,” head coach Erik Olson said. “These games are no bigger than the ones we lost last weekend.”
CMU went into Buffalo and Akron last weekend looking to turn around the recent downward trend but instead found itself with two four-set loses.
“We just need to play together; we have some good moments and then some not pretty moments,” junior libero Jenna Coates said. “We need to put everything together and play with one heartbeat.”
So, what triggered this losing streak?
Olson said it’s a combination of things.
“Our serving has been improved. I think we got a little off in that Bowling Green match with so many errors, and the team just backed off,” Olson said. “Our passing has gotten more disciplined, and we’re getting a better connection … that’s all connected into one thing.”
This will be the second time the Chippewas have faced WMU and NIU this season.
They started MAC play with a four-set loss to the Huskies, but a win against the Broncos the following night started a six-match winning streak.
CMU is hoping another win against its rival will kick-start another upward trend.
However, a lot has changed with WMU and NIU since week one of the MAC schedule.
“We’ve absolutely seen major changes,” Olson said. “It’s like we’re playing two different teams.”
One key for the Chippewas this season has been the defensive play from Coates.
Coates was named MAC West Defensive Player of the Week for the third time and is currently leading the MAC in digs with 5.10 per set.
“It’s a great honor; (I) would’ve liked two wins with it, but I’ll take it,” Coates said. “I’ve heard talk of (MAC Defensive Player of the Year), but it’s not something I’m thinking about.”