Volleyball faces crucial, in-conference road tests this weekend after coming off split matches last week against Toledo and Ball State.
The Chippewas will take on rival Western Michigan in Kalamazoo at 7 p.m. today before traveling to DeKalb, Ill., on Saturday to take on Northern Illinois at 8 p.m.
Head coach Erik Olson said the team looks to make improvements this weekend, especially after getting swept by Ball State.
“There’s not a whole lot of avoiding we can do,” Olson said. “Ball State was pretty good. They’re the best passing team we’ve encountered all season. Crisping up our connection with our setters has certainly been a priority, and that’s the bottom line.”
Staying upbeat and on top of its opponents are key for CMU, he said, but the team is also playing for bragging rights against the rival Broncos.
“Western’s coaching staff doesn’t acknowledge that there’s a rivalry,” Olson said. “I would acknowledge that there is, but I think from our end, we’re focusing on not hyping (the rivalry) up. I know our school doesn’t like Western, and I know our team doesn’t like Western. That motivation is already there. I don’t have to add any extra.”
CMU faces a tough task Saturday at NIU. Olson expects the Huskies to be well-prepared and well-coached. Northern Illinois has split its first two MAC matches.
“Next weekend we’re playing in two of the most hostile environments in the MAC,” Olson said. “It’s two good teams and two teams that are ranked in front of us, but I think we have a good enough team to where we can win either match.”
Olson praised his team for its work ethic this week in practice and hopes to see CMU have the same sort of success against WMU and NIU this weekend as it did when it swept Toledo last week.
“I think we matched up and played well against Toledo,” Olson said. “We’ve been passing really well so far. If we’re not locked in or matched up well, we can fight and win that last set so we can extend the match.”
The Chippewas enter this weekend in fifth place in the MAC West.
“My belief is always, we’re good enough on any given night to beat any team in the country,” Olson said. “The key is doing it on a consistent basis.”