Volleyball splits pair of matches to open MAC season
It was an up and down performance this week for Central Michigan University’s volleyball team as the women went 1-1 to start the Mid-American Conference season.
The Chippewas played at two completely different levels in their matches against Eastern Michigan University and Ohio University Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Following a victory over EMU on Thursday, CMU was defeated in four sets by Ohio University during the weekend.
“We didn’t do a lot of things very well tonight,” said head coach Erik Olson. “Ohio served tough on us. That sped up the game for us in a bad way. Our offense became one-dimensional. Ohio won the serving and passing battle tonight, and that’s an ongoing process for us.”
The women failed to get their side out percentage higher than 60 percent in any of the four sets against the Bobcats.
The Bobcats took the first set 25-11 with a very aggressive style of play.
Ohio forced the issue on the attack and ended the match with 51 kills to the Chippewas 37.
One Chippewa, Kaitlyn McIntyre, finished the match against OU with double-digit kills.
The Bobcats were able to match each CMU run and make their own. This was something freshman setter Kylie Copple said was a “little frustrating.”
“That was a little bit different from our past matches,” Copple said. “When Ohio made a big run, that got in our heads a little bit. That’s not really (like) us.”
McIntyre said Ohio’s ability to control the match caused problems that the Chippewas were not forced to deal with two days earlier against EMU.
“Against Eastern, it seemed like we communicated a little better, and we just felt more in control,” McIntyre said. “There were times when we had control in the match tonight, but we just didn’t execute quite the way that we wanted to.”
Though the Chippewas were impressed with what they saw out of Ohio, the women remain confident they can compete with the Bobcats and other top-tier MAC teams down the stretch.
“If that’s the best team in the MAC, then we are right there,” McIntyre said. “We know we are a good team, we just have to execute better.”
On Thursday, the women topped the Eagles in four sets, extending its winning streak to five games and capturing its first win at McGuirk Arena of the season.
During the final two sets against the Eagles, the women’s side out percentage dropped to 53 percent after posting a percentage of 75 through the first two sets.
Olson said that the youth on this year’s squad served as both a blessing and a curse during the first two conference games of the year.
“This is the first time a lot of the girls have played Ohio,” he said. “The game has no knowledge of how old the players are. There were times where we showed our youth. At the same time our youth showed how good we are going to be.”
Moving forward, Olson saidhis team has the potential to be the best in the MAC, and has only scratched the surface of its potential this weekend.
“This is an eye opener for our team,” Olson said. “If that’s what the best in the MAC is, then I think we have an opportunity to reach the top. We’re not the best team in the MAC right now, but I have a bigger picture in my head.”
As the Chippewas prepare for Ball State and Toledo next weekend, Olson said his group knows exactly what they can achieve.
“We have some great players that want it very badly,” he said. “Once this group finally unites as one heartbeat and goes into each match like warriors, they are going to be a really tough group.”