Eagles get downed
A win over Eastern Michigan University on Thursday night at McGuirk Arena marked the beginning of The Central Michigan University volleyball team's Mid American Conference season.
CMU took the match in four sets (25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20).
Playing on their home floor for the first time since going 0-3 at the Chippewa Invitational earlier in the season, the Chippewas finally gave their fans something to cheer about.
“It felt good to get a win on our home floor,” said senior outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre. “I thought our crowd was great tonight. Our bench was great, so it was a fun atmosphere.”
The win improves the Chippewa's record to 6-7 on the season and 1-0 in the MAC. The victory also extends the team’s winning streak to five games.
The women have made a complete turnaround since starting the season 0-6, and CMU coach Erik Olson believes that experience has been one of his team's strongest advantages.
“I think we’re growing up,” Olson said. “We’re pushing the team harder and I’m very pleased with the win.”
The victory over the Eagles was not easy, Olson said, as EMU did not go quietly.
“In the MAC, everyone fights, fights and fights,” he said. “I congratulate Eastern for fighting as hard as they did.”
During the first and second sets, EMU seemed outmatched.Freshman Jordan Bueter’s 14 kills helped CMU out to an early two-match lead.
“The team has done a great job of keeping me on track,” Bueter said. “Before the game I told myself to go out there and play strong, and that’s what happened.”
CMU looked poised for a sweep when EMU took control early in the third set 13-6. The Chippewas called a timeout and went on a 9-1 run to take the lead 15-14.
With the two teams tied at 19, EMU went on a 4-0 point run to pull away and avoid the shutout loss.
The women started the fourth set fast with the same intensity, leading 18-10 in the first two sets. The women even forced the Eagles to use their final timeout.
Then, EMU cut the women’s lead to 21-19, forcing Olson to call a timeout.
CMU ended the deciding match on a 4-1 run.
“We had to get back to our game,” Olson said. “We were overthinking rather than just playing, so I challenged the team to just play volleyball and be great.”
Defensively the women were able to keep EMU off balance. Led by junior middle blocker Angelique White, who finished with a team-high six blocks, and was second in kills with 12, the Chippewas stifled most of the Eagles major offensive threats.
“We worked a lot this week on trying to shut down EMU’s setter and outside hitter, and I think we did a great job,” White said.
McIntyre finished the match with nine kills and seven digs, while Kalle Mulford added nine kills of her own.
After the rough start to the season, McIntyre said the team had to establish an identity before they could start to see similar results.
“We were still trying to find ourselves at that Chippewa Invitational,” she said. “After starting 0-6, we talked about getting better everyday, and that’s what we did, and we are going to continue to do that match by match.”