Volleyball travels to Eastern to open MAC play

The volleyball team takes its five-game winning streak to Ypsilanti for its first conference match of the season at 7 p.m. today.

The Chippewas play Eastern Michigan today and defending Mid-American Conference Champion Ohio on Saturday.

“We are coming off a great weekend,” said freshman middle blocker Danielle Gotham. “We have gone up against many different levels of play and, now, we just have to go out and do what we are capable of.”

The Eagles have struggled this season, with a 1-13 overall record, including losses to Army, Michigan, Miami and Mississippi State. CMU coach Erik Olson said the team is not overlooking the Eagles despite their struggles.

“The MAC is tough. Every match is going to be tough,” Olson said. “You can’t count on anything. You have to go out there and play your hardest.”

Freshman outside hitter Rachel Iaquaniello has been crucial to the EMU offense with 162 kills. No one else on the team is within 40 kills of that total.

Central swept EMU last season, but the Eagles have won 10 of their last 11 conference openers.

“I think we are ready to start the playing in the MAC,” said senior libero Alexis Lonneman. “We look forward to the first MAC game all summer and, now, we are just ready to go out there and have fun.”

Saturday’s match

Ohio is on a quest for its seventh consecutive invitation to the NCAA Championship tournament. The team is 8-4 heading into conference play, but is coming off two straight-set losses.

In her final season, Ohio outside hitter Ellen Herman has proved why she deserved the MAC Player of the Year award she earned last season. Her 197 kills is nearly twice the amount of any other athlete on the roster and over a third of the team’s total.

Herman hit for 20 kills in the 3-2 victory over Central last season. “I don’t know if there is anyone more intense then Ellen Herman,” Olson said. “She is a pretty tenacious player. We have a respect for her and that squad.”

CMU faced the Bobcats in its last conference match of the season last year and lost in five sets.

“Last year, it kind of left us on a down moment heading into the tournament,” Olson said. “When you play a good match, you have to have the maturity to walk away whether you win or lose and get your mind set on the next match. We didn’t do a good job of doing that the last few times we have played Ohio.”