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Volleyball hosts pair of top MAC teams this weekend

Greg Cornwell | Staff Photographer Freshman Kylie Copple (No. 30) sets the ball for junior middle blocker (No. 16) Angelique White during their match against Eastern Michigan University.

With a few weeks of Mid-American Conference play behind them, Central Michigan University’s volleyball team spent the week preparing for one of its toughest weekends of the season.

The Chippewas face two of the premier programs in the MAC: archrival Western Michigan University and Northern Illinois University.

“To me it’s about preparing for each team (separately),” said CMU Head Coach Erik Olson. “The two teams coming in are good teams. We have to take it one match at a time.”

The women will return to McGuirk Arena where they are 1-4 on the year, including a 0-3 showing at the Chippewa Invitational. 

Olson said the Chippewas record at home is deceiving.

“People look at that kind of stuff, but I don’t,” Olson said. “The MAC is tough every night. Everybody is just good enough to beat everybody, so you have to be on your toes and be ready to go.”

The Chippewas’ freshman middle blocker Paige Carey also acknowledged that this is a big weekend for the team.

“There’s definitely a lot more pressure because this is what counts,” Carey said. “This is the real deal, and as long as we come out and put it altogether we should be good to go. Winning these two matches would just confirm all of our hard work.”

WMU comes into the match with a 10-7 record and is 2-2 in MAC.

The Broncos have the reigning MAC West Offensive Player of the Week in sophomore outside hitter Alysia Baznik. She leads WMU in kills with 182, and ranks seventh in the conference averaging 3.1 kills per set.

Senior setter Lexie Pawlik is another dangerous player for the Broncos. She averages 10.7 assists per set, which is good for second best in the MAC.

NIU is 11-7 overall and is one of two undefeated teams left in the MAC with a record of 4-0.

The Huskies have led by senior outside hitter and All-MAC selection Mackenzie Roddy, who was named MAC Defensive Player of the Week for her numbers last weekend.

The Huskies are first in the conference in serving aces with 115.

NIU will be a tough matchup, Olson said but he is confident the Chippewas can pull off an upset on their home floor.

“NIU is shaping up to be the team to beat in the west division,” he said. “But that could change in one weekend. If we do what we can do, we could be the team to beat in the west.”

CMU’s senior middle blocker Hallie Enderle suggested a pair of wins the weekend could shake up both the conference standings and this mindset of the top teams in the league.

“To get these two wins, it would be a huge step in the right direction for us,” Enderle said. “It would be a great momentum builder.”

Quickness and momentum management are what the Chippewas say will lead to a pair of upsets.

“We’re the fast runner middle, quick in transition team,” Enderle said. “If we do that, we are absolutely capable of dominating both teams.”