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Volleyball eliminated by WMU in first round of MAC tournament

A Mid-American Conference volleyball run will not be happening this season as Central Michigan was defeated in four-sets against Western Michigan in the quarterfinals Friday.

The No. 6 Chippewas split sets one and two with the No. 3 Broncos, 25-20 and 25-22, and the teams looked even statistically going into the break.

But WMU came out of the break strong with a 25-15 win and then carried that momentum into set four with a 25-20 win that ended the CMU tournament run before it could even start.

“I thought Western (Michigan) played a little slow in the first two sets, and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to take advantage of that,” head coach Erik Olson said. “Western just played a little bit better than us today.”

The Chippewas didn’t sit back and take the loss after a poor showing in set three. They trailed 17-13 until senior middle blocker Jocelyn VerVelde came into the set and recorded three-straight kills and a block assist to tie the set at 17.

CMU and the Broncos exchanged points until it was 19-19, and, from there, it was all WMU.

“We used her to attack behind the setter, and (VerVelde) just continued on from last weekend,” Olson said. “She did a pretty good job and was pretty aggressive.”

Junior setter Kelly Maxwell had 50 assists (12.5 per set), but it still wasn’t enough to match with WMU’s .309 hitting percentage. Maxwell was named to the All-MAC Second Team on Thursday.

“She hit her average, so that’s good, and I thought she did pretty decent defensively,” Olson said. “She had a lot of balls come toward her, she made some good plays, and she was one of our block leaders with two or three solo blocks.”

Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre was named to the All-MAC First Team this week, and led the Chippewas with senior outside hitter Val DeWeerd with 13 kills.

Junior libero Jenna Coates was also named to the All-MAC First Team and led CMU with 18 digs.

Freshman middle blocker Angie White was named to the All-MAC Freshmen Team.

Despite the loss, the season isn’t over for the Chippewas. They will travel to Florida next weekend to play Central Florida and South Florida to conclude the year.

“This is a real big test for us in terms of character, because we aren’t a candidate for the bubble,” Olson said. “Our program goals are to get better each day … we had our opportunities but we have to move forward.”

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