Like mother, like daughter: Two generations lead Central Michigan volleyball
In 1982, Denise Breslin and Terri Phillion led the volleyball team to a 38-6 record while earning All-Mid American Conference First Team honors.
Fast forward 30 years, and you will find Denise Gotham and Terri Phillion-Dulude cheering on their daughters, junior middle blocker Danielle Gotham and senior outside hitter Lindsey Dulude.
“Lindsey and I have known each other our whole lives, and I knew when I committed that it was going to be something special for me and for her,” Danielle said. “It’s cool having my mom see me play here when she also played here.”
Danielle and Lindsey were exposed to Chippewas volleyball at an early age. When they were little, their mothers would dress them in matching cheerleader outfits and bring them to volleyball matches.
“Terri and I would come and bring the girls when they were two and let them run around,” Denise said. “They wouldn’t last the whole match, and we’d have to take them into the turf room so they could run around, so she and Lindsey really grew up together.”
Both Denise and Terri remained friends well after their playing days and, in a way, helped shape the way CMU volleyball looks today with that early exposure to the game and the university.
“We’ve been in touch with each other since the girls were babies, and we would take them to matches and even go to hotels and watch tournaments,” Phillion-Dulude said. “They grew up knowing each other even though we lived two hours apart … we say we’re each other’s stepmoms.”
As years went by, Lindsey and Danielle grew apart due to playing different sports, but once high school hit and they both had prospects of playing college sports, the two became close once again.
“In the middle-school ages, we grew apart just because we were in different sports,” Lindsey said. “But in high school, when college sports were in our forefront, we started becoming closer, thanks to our moms.”
Now, Danielle and Lindsey are following in their mothers' footsteps by leading CMU on the volleyball court.
Not only do the four share a passion for Chippewas volleyball, but they all share a place in the program’s record books.
Lindsey is in the record books for career service aces, service aces per set, digs, digs per set, points and sets played. She is also in the single-season record books for service aces, aces per set and sets played.
Her mother, Terri, is in the career record books for total blocks and the single-season record books for kills and hitting percentage, where she's joined by her friend Denise.
“It’s neat knowing a generation follows another one,” Dulude-Phillion said. “We were proud of what we did and just even more proud of them. It’s nice to see our (Denise) Breslin, Gotham, Dulude and Phillion in the record books, because it brings back a lot of good memories.”
Last season, Danielle joined the single-season record book with the third-most block assists and total blocks in a season, and she is ninth in blocks per set.
She came into the season No. 7 all-time in solo blocks and No. 9 in total blocks.
“I’m just so proud seeing Danielle out there,” Gotham said. “She’s representing CMU out there, so it’s terrific.”
Terri, like her daughter Lindsey, was an outside hitter and she said she believes it’s her daughter’s feel for the game that gives her an advantage on the court.
“She is a very strong and very smart player,” Phillion-Dulude said. “She knows when to pound away, when to tip, when to use off-speed, and she has a pulse for the game, and that’s a big asset for her."
Danielle and Lindsey were able to do something their mothers weren’t able to by winning a MAC Championship.
Last season, the duo helped CMU win the program’s first MAC Championship with a historic run in the MAC Tournament and clinched the program's first NCAA Tournament berth.
“It was something I’ve been waiting for for 31 years,” Phillion-Dulude said. “We were always second, and it was something special having it be my daughter that did it … it was a weekend, a match and a point that I’ll never forget.”
Denise said the feeling was "indescribable," being able to watch her daughter, alongside her friend and former teammate, win the MAC Championship.
“I was proud of her, the team, the entire program on winning that first-ever MAC Championship,” Gotham said.
Lindsey’s time with the Chippewas is coming to a close.
She was honored on senior night as the 15th member of the 1,000-kill club. Her mother was one of the original members of the club and is part of the CMU volleyball Hall of Fame.
“To be the 15th member, and her mom being one of the first, that’s pretty cool,” head coach Erik Olson said. “It shows how many have come between mom and daughter and how big of an honor that is that only 12 or 13 players came between those two; it puts an exclamation point on (Lindsey’s) career.”
Lindsey, Danielle and the rest of the team will enter the MAC tournament Friday as the sixth seed in Geneva, Ohio. CMU's first opponent will be No. 3 Western Michigan.