After four straight weekends on the road, volleyball opens up its Mid-American Conference schedule this weekend at home against Toledo and Ball State.
The Chippewas (6-6) come into the contests on a high note after winning four out their last six matches to finish the non-conference season.
“It’s been so long, I can’t even remember what it is to feel like being at home,” said head coach Erik Olson. “It’s been since November last year that we’ve been at home with a full student-aided crowd.”
While Toledo (7-6) and Ball State (12-3) come into the weekend with better records, this weekend should be a better indicator of where the Chippewas stand in the MAC.
Toledo is coming off a 2-1 weekend in the Butler Invitational, winning matches against Tennessee-Martin and Green Bay and losing to Butler.
“Toledo has a lot of familiar faces coming back that are on the court right now,” Olson said. “Last year it was a slugfest. Every year’s it’s a slugfest with those guys.”
Ball State has won its past nine matches, including a sweep in the College of Charleston Tournament last weekend. The Cardinals play at Eastern Michigan Friday before coming to Mount Pleasant on Saturday.
The Cardinals senior middle blocker Mindy Marx was named the MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week while 6′ 4” redshirt sophomore middle blocker Hayley Benson won the MAC West Division Defensive Player of the week.
“We need to come out and fight hard and they’re going to come out and fight hard as well,” said freshman outside hitter Melissa Fuchs. “It’d be great lead into MAC (play) with two wins.”
Coming into the season, the MAC West looks to be a toss-up as to who will win the division.
“I think no matter who you’re playing in the West Division, you have a 50-50 opportunity to win or lose,” Olson said. “Some years, it’s like, ‘yep, tonight’s going to be a ‘W’. That’s not the case. I’m geared up for a very competitive MAC season.”
The Chippewas received three first-place votes, good for only third place in the preseason coaches poll.
Western Michigan received four and Northern Illinois picked up five votes.
The Rockets were picked to finish last in the MAC West and Ball State was picked to finish fourth behind the Chippewas. Neither team received first-place votes.
“I think Toledo could run away and win the West Division,” Olson said. “That’s how the MAC is.”
CMU will play Toledo Friday and Ball State Saturday. Both game start at 7 p.m. at McGuirk Arena.