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Volleyball narrowly avoids getting swept at Cleveland State Invitational

Gregory Cornwell | Staff Photographer The Chippewas celebrate after a point against WMU. After taking a two set lead early on, the Chippewas could not get a third as the Broncos rallied back for the win.

For the second week in a row, the Chippewas avoided a winless tournament outing, by pulling out a victory in their final match of the Cleveland State Invitational on Saturday afternoon.

Central Michigan University volleyball (2-4) came into the tournament riding a last-match victory from the previous weekend, but that momentum evaporated during the first two matches of the CSU invite.

The Chippewas fell in the first match to the host Vikings 3-1 on Friday night and then were swept by Cincinnati University on Saturday morning. Facing another possible fruitless outcome, the Chippewas would grit out a victory over Binghamton 3-2, evading a weekend sweep.

“I think it would not have be a fun bus ride after going 0-3,” Head Coach Erik Olson said. “Back-to-back weekends we’ve won five set matches, and we’re playing well in them. We’re a lot tougher team to play because we don’t give up. And you’re going to have to beat us, and I would just like to see us play a little more aggressive so it’s tougher to do that.”

CMU sophomore outside hitter Jordan Bueter finished the tournament with 34 kills, followed by senior middle blocker Kalle Mulford, who added 27 kills and eight blocks. 

The Chippewas freshman setter Marissa Grant ended the tournament with 54 assists, and freshman defensive specialist Jamison Wolffis led CMU with 58 digs.

Mulford’s performance earned her a spot on the all-tournament team, and Olson said her experience was key.

“This is probably her most consistent weekend of her career,” Olson said. “She did a really good job of opening things up for outside attackers. Angie White was a little under the weather, so that put even more pressure on her, and she performed great.”

CSU 3, CMU 1 (25-15, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23)

The Chippewas found themselves down 2-1 heading into the fourth set against the Vikings. CMU jumped out to a 14-9 lead forcing a CSU timeout, but the Vikings responded and tied the match at 23. CSU’s senior outside hitter Christina Toth finished off the Chippewas with back-to-back kills to give the Vikings the set 25-23 and the match.

“They play to win,” Olson said. “In the end, they were just a little more aggressive than we were,”

UC 3, CMU 0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-23)

Cincinnati was out for revenge after the Chippewas upset the favored Bearcats 3-1 last season at the Cincinnati Invitational. 

The Chippewas held a 13-11 lead in the first set, but the Bearcats rumbled back to take a 20-17 advantage and never looked back. UC grabbed set two 25-19 and then completed the sweep in set three 25-23. CMU could not overcome its side out struggles as the Chippewas finished the match at 57 percent.

“They are a better team than last year,” Olson said. “It felt like we could have served better to expose some of their weaknesses, but we just didn’t do that.”

CMU 3, BU 2 (25-22, 23-25, 25-15, 16-25, 15-10)

It came down to the fifth and final set as neither team gave an edge during the match. In that final set, BU led 4-0, but back-to-back kills by CMU sophomore outside hitter Taylor Robertson’s gave the Chippewas a 6-4 advantage. CMU senior middle blocker Angie White recorded her ninth block of the match, which pushed CMU’s lead to 13-5, closing the door on the Bearcats.

“To come out with a win, and to do it in five, I don’t think it should have gone five, but to win five set matches is something that we did not do last season,” Olson said. “I see that as a positive for sure.”

The Chippewas head to Fresno, California for the Fresno State Invitational on Friday.