Volleyball returns home after long stretch on road

The CMU women’s volleyball team begins a crucial stretch of games this weekend.

After playing 15 of its first 16 games on the road, the team returns home to Finch Fieldhouse to begin a four-game homestretch.

CMU hosts Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. today and Western Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We have pretty high expectations for the weekend,” said sophomore Lindsey Dulude. “We are really looking forward to being at home — it will be nice to be in front of our fans.”

The last time they were home, the Chippewas fell to 0-2 in the Mid-American Conference following a 3-2 loss against conference favorite Ohio.

After starting out 0-3 in the MAC, the team got its first conference win last weekend with a sweep of Toledo. They look to build on that momentum against 17-2 NIU.

The Huskies enter the weekend riding a three-match winning streak, with wins against Western Michigan and Toledo. The Chippewas have traditionally been tough against NIU, winning the past three meetings.

Senior Lauren Krupsky said in order to secure victory in both games, the team will have to maintain steady serving all weekend.

“We just have to do a good job of serving aggressively,” Krupsky said. “And if we can serve aggressively, we can get them out of system.”

WMU (12-5, 3-1 MAC) comes into this match having won six of its last seven games, including matches against MAC opponents Toledo, Ball State and Bowling Green. The Broncos will look for production from an offense that ranks second in the league with a hitting percentage of .236.

Despite the tough competition, head coach Erik Olson said the weekend is the perfect time for his team to make a stand and prove they are among the elite in the conference.

“We’re expected to be one of the best team’s in the West Division, and we need to show that this weekend,” Olson said.

CMU, two games out of first, look to break the four-way tie for first atop the MAC West with the help of senior Lauren Krupsky and sophomore Lindsey Dulude. Both have had impressive starts to their season and look to continue that this weekend. Krupsky currently sits in sixth place in the kills category with a 3.47 per set kill rate. Dulude’s contributions are shown through her sixth place spot in the service ace category (22).

Despite NIU’s struggles, the team remains focused on Friday’s match, rather than look forward to its in-state rival. Olson said that at this point in the season, back-to-back matches have become commonplace and his team should be more than prepared.

“We don’t let the team focus on the second opponent until we’re done with the first opponent,” Olson said. “So we put the difficulty on the coaches to filter that.”