At a Glance: Chippewas head to Evansville Invite in search of first victory
After failing to capture a single win in its first two tournaments of the season, Central Michigan University’s volleyball team sets its eyes on the Evansville Invitational this weekend.
The Chippewas travel to Evansville Ind., following a disappointing 0-3 showing at the Chippewa Invitational last weekend.
CMU coach Erik Olson said avoiding “crucial” mistakes will be the deciding factor in the women grabbing their first victory of the season this weekend or not.
“We kind of fixed some of our system things where players were not really looking at the right things,” Olson said. “It’s when our players break our own system, and that’s not the idea.”
Olson emphasized fundamentals in practice this week.
“You want the other team to try to break your system,” he said. “Then you have to change what you’re doing. But instead, we were kind of breaking what we were doing.”
Here is a quick look at who CMU will take on this weekend:
The Chippewas starts the tournament by hosting Evansville, which comes into the event with a 2-6 regular season record. The Purple Aces are led by senior standout Ashley Ring who was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week last week. Ring tallied 69 kills, 35 digs and seven blocks over the course of Evansville’s first four matches. Ring was also named to the all-tournament team at the Kent State tournament last weekend.
Ring’s potential impact on this weekend’s match has forced Olson to take a different approach in his preparation.
“I am out there mimicking one of the players we are going to see,” he said referencing Ring . “I’m doing some weird things with my approach that our team is not used to seeing.”
The women will play IUPUI in the first of two matches on Saturday. The Jaguars have posted a 2-5 record so far. The Chippewas will need to stop junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Hickey who has 68 kills, 71 digs and 13 blocks so far this season. IUPUI has struggled with errors totaling 135.
The Blue Demons are set to face CMU in Saturday’s tournament nightcap. DePaul’s junior outside hitter Saige Gallop will be a player to watch as she comes into the event with 88 kills averaging 3.83 per set leading her team.
The strongest aspect of DePaul’s game is its defense. The Blue Demons have out-blocked their opponents 60-48.
Keys to success:
The CMU women have had problems holding onto the lead through the first six matches of the year.
“I want to stop playing ourselves, that’s probably my biggest concern,” Olson said. “I want to play an opponent and not us.”
Yet a “positive” and “productive” week of practice has helped the women regain some of their confidence.
“When we practice live play, it keeps them much crisper and mentally sharp,” Olson said. “It has helped cut down on a lot of mistakes. We are playing a lot cleaner.”
Even with a positive output in practice, Olson said execution in a live game can not be easily mimicked.
“We still have to play another team,” he said. “I don’t know how adaptable we are right now, but we are playing better volleyball.”
Taylor Robertson and Kylie Copple are two Chippewas Olson said to keep an eye on this weekend.
“We are devoting almost a entire day to getting (Robertson) going,” Olson said. “She did some great things blocking earlier in the week. Now she’s doing some great things offensively.”
Chippewas junior middle blocker Kalle Mulford said consistency is something the women will need to find in order to have a chance at grabbing their first win.
“We’re a great team at great moments,” she said. “Sometimes we get a little distracted, so we just need to finish strong in tight moments.”
Olson said the key to winning is keeping it out of your head.
“We have to stop using the word win,” he said. “It’s about the process, it’s not about winning. If you take care of the little things the winning will come.”