Volleyball has strong showing at Chippewa Invitational
After a 3-0 start, the Central Michigan volleyball team ended the Chippewa Invitational on the wrong end of a sweep at McGuirk Arena.
CMU (5-1) won the first two matches in its home invitational on Friday, but dropped the finale on Saturday.
Match 1: Central Michigan 3, Eastern Illinois 0
Central Michigan swept Eastern Illinois in the opener with scores of 25-20, 25-21, and 25-21.
The Chippewas used two runs of five consecutive points to pull away in the first set, including a spurt that ended the game after Eastern Illinois rallied to tie the game at 20.
The second saw CMU never trail by more than just a single point, and the complete effort was sustained as the Chippewas were able to win both the second and third sets by a four-point margin.
Leading the Chippewa attack were junior outside hitter Kalina Smith, who contributed 13 kills, and junior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez who added nine. Sophomore setter Kendall Braate had 35 assists over the course of the three sets.
Senior libero Megan Kern had 15 digs. Kern, freshman outside hitter Anna Erickson, and Rosario-Martinez each contributed aces as well.
Match 2: Central Michigan 3, North Dakota State 2
Friday night saw the Chippewas hold off the Bison in a closely contested matchup. Central Michigan won sets the first, third and fifth sets, 25-22, 25-22, 15-12, while the Bison won the second and fourth sets, 25-19, 25-14.
The teams traded victories in the first four sets, and coach Mike Gawlik was impressed with his team’s resiliency after losing two sets.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of (rebounding),” Gawlik said. “Rebounding after losing a set to win set three, losing set four to win set five.”
Gawlik was also impressed with contributions the team received from sophomore outside hitter Sierra Gray and sophomore middle blocker Megan Sivertsen off the bench.
He commended Sivertsen’s ability to play multiple positions while praising the spark that Gray provided.
“She’s done an admirable job filling both roles,” Gawlik said of Sivertsen and her ability to play on both the left and right side.
Smith led the Chippewas in kills with 13 while Maddie Whitfield added 10 and Gray had nine. Freshman defensive specialist Kasey Firestone had three aces while Braate had 43 assists. Kern had 21 digs.
Match 3: Illinois-Chicago 3, Central Michigan 0
CMU suffered its first loss of the season when it was swept by Illinois-Chicago. Set one was a battle that saw the Chippewas shoot out to an early lead, only to have the Flames fight back and take the set, 27-25.
“I thought it was a good set overall,” Coach Gawlik said of set one. “I thought we outplayed them for the majority of that set only to have them kind of snatch it from us.”
The Chippewas were unable to bring that fight into the ensuing sets and the Flames were able to run away with the match. Set two finished 25-15, while the third had a final of 25-16, both in favor of UIC.
“I don’t think today was our best,” Gawlik said. He also stated an uncharacteristic lack of aggression as to why the team struggled, as well as the team being “a little shell-shocked,” after the result of set one.
Kalina Smith had eight kills for CMU while Sierra Gray had seven. Braate had 25 assists and Kern had eight digs.
The Chippewas hit the road and travel to the DePaul Invitational against the host Blue Demons at 8 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the Sullivan Athletic Center in Chicago, Illinois.