The brooms were out in full force this weekend, and the Chippewas were on the wrong side of Saturday’s sweep against Ball State.
CMU (7-7, 1-1 MAC) opened McGuirk Arena and the Mid-American Conference Friday and only needed one hour and 34 minutes to sweep Toledo (7-8, 0-2 MAC) Friday 3-0. However; Ball State (14-3, 2-0 MAC) took only one hour and 25 minutes to sweep the Chippewas 25-14, 25-22 and 25-19 Saturday.
“(Ball State) controlled the flow of the match,” said head coach Erik Olson. “What we talked about in the locker room was how we weren’t very aggressive in just about every aspect of the game.”
Eight of the Chippewas past nine games have been sweeps, five of which they have won. Olson says the team needs to be able to adapt better during the game to avoid being swept.
“We talked about how much the team heard our coaches tonight,” Olson said. “I think our focus got so narrow that we couldn’t see a brick wall headed right toward us. We have to do a better job under adversity.”
CMU’s best chance to win a set came in the second, which had 12 lead changes. It went on a 5-1 run early on to take a 10-6 lead, but Ball State followed with a 5-1 run of its own to tie the game at 11.
At 18-18, the Cardinals scored three points in a row and took the lead for good.
“We came out really aggressively in the second set,” said freshman outside hitter Melissa Fuchs. “We were in control part way through, then we just kind of fell apart.”
Fuchs had a team high 10 kills in the match. She says the lack of aggressiveness was one of the major factors in the loss.
“I think we could be more aggressive for sure,” Fuchs said. “Ball State came out very aggressively, and that was the difference.”
Another area that lacked to match the aggressiveness from Friday night’s victory was the crowd noise.
“Our super fans were missing, and it was evident,” Olson said. “The fan attendance was close to last night’s, but the environment wasn’t quite as upbeat as it has been. We were a little bit more polite tonight as hosts. I think that we can be a little bit more rowdy and raucous.”
The attendance was 533 Friday and 474 Saturday, both higher than the crowd Olson described as “hostile” during last weekend’s Georgia Southern Invitational.
“We want the whole arena to get crazy; we want the whole arena to have a fun time,” Olson said. “This team really thrives on that, so it’ll certainly help us in the future.”
It was a different story Friday night.
The Chippewas had firm control on the match for the first two sets, winning them 25-23 and 25-15, respectively, and the McGuirk Arena crowd saw CMU play some of its best ball all year.
“I’m very pleased with this victory tonight,” Olson said. “This is probably our best win of the season so far, and this was very big of us to put it together.”
Through the first two sets, there was only one lead change, with the Chippewas seeming to have the match under control. The second set saw CMU’s attacking percent climb to .484. Toledo, however, did not go down without a fight.
“Toledo stepped up and I really thought they played great tonight,” Olson said. “Getting the first (MAC win) out of the way is huge.”
Senior setter Kelly Maxwell, now ranked No. 13 in the nation in overall assists, had 43. Her teammate, junior Kaitlyn McIntyre, had an impressive performance of her own. With 12 kills, she helped keep CMU in good spirits.
Maxwell and McIntyre were not the only ones contributing for the Chippewas. Doing a quality job at spreading the ball around the court helped them prevail in the end.
Defensively, Fuchs had 13 digs, while senior libero Jenna Coates had 16 digs.
CMU will be on the road next weekend at 7 p.m. Friday at Western Michigan and 8 p.m. Saturday at Northern Illinois.