Volleyball looks to shrug off 0-2 MAC start this weekend

The Central Michigan women’s volleyball team has started Mid-American Conference play with two consecutive losses for the first time since the 2005 season.

They will get a third shot at reaching the win column at 7 p.m. today against Ball State in Muncie, Ind.

“Every time we step on the court you want to win,” Olson said. “Obviously, I want to go 2-0 this weekend, but I really want to see us play good team volleyball.”

Although the Chippewas pushed both Eastern Michigan and Ohio University to five sets in each match, the team failed to close the deal and lost both by a total of eight points.

Sophomore Katie Schuette said one of the main issues that may have contributed to the slow start is the team’s serve-receive rotation.

“I think that our serve-receive was our weakness in that match,” Schuette said.

Ball State comes into tonight’s home opener with an 11-3 overall record and 1-1 conference mark after splitting last weekend’s MAC contests. The Cardinals won a tough five-setter against Northern Illinois but were swept by Western Michigan.

In the two matches, CMU combined for 21 errors off of the serve, something head coach Erik Olson said needs to be tightened up if the team wants to make a run in the conference.

“We just need to come out every night and play as hard as we can every night,” Olson said. “But every night in the MAC someone is going to be really good, so we can’t overlook anybody.”

The second problem that Olson alluded to was his team’s passing ability. Facing a talented blocking team in the Ohio Bobcats, Olson said that his team’s passing needs improvement so that they were not victim to so many blocking opportunities.

“It’s just one thing at this point and that is to pass better,” Olson said. “If we just put a little more oomph on some of those balls, it’s a different night.”

The Cardinals are led by last week’s MAC West Defensive Player of the Week Alyssa Rio. The senior libero had 55 digs and a 6.88 digs-per-set average over the weekend.

Offensively, they are led by junior Kelsey Brandl, who is averaging 3.28 kills per set.

CMU’s passing attack offered up only seven blocks against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 23, but surrendered 11.5 blocks against Ohio on Saturday.

The team will have a short turnaround, playing at 3 p.m. Saturday against Toledo. The Rockets (5-8, 0-2 MAC), who sit tied with the Chippewas at second in the MAC West, are led by junior outside hitter Amber DeWeerdt, who leads the team in kills with 133 and is second on the squad in digs with 154.

Since the 2006 season, the Chippewas have had a combined 12-4 record against the two MAC West teams.