Volleyball falls to Evansville in opening match of Chippewa Challenge
It wasn’t the homecoming Central Michigan University’s volleyball team expected Friday night.
The Chippewas opened the match with a 25-22 win in set one, but lost its final three sets 25-18, 25-22 and 25-20 surrendering the match to Evansville 3-1 at McGuirk Arena.
CMU (3-8) hoped returning home for the Chippewa Challenge would be a benefit, but the Purple Aces had other plans.
“What I told our team was, ‘We have to make the changes that we tell you to make,’” said CMU Head Coach Erik Olson. “When I’m starting to repeat myself more than a couple of times that should be a slap in the face, and it’s just not.”
After the first set, the Chippewas side-out percentage dropped each set, allowing the Purple Aces to establish their style of play.
Evansville (6-6) ended the second set with a side-out percentage of 83, which helped tie the match 1-1.
“The defense is what dropped off,” Olson said. “In set two, we really played no defense at all. We stopped making stops, we stopped making the blocks and the digs.”
The Chippewas trailed 7-3 in both the second and third set. The inconsistent starts proved to be too much to overcome for CMU.
“We just started out slow,” said CMU’s sophomore outside hitter Taylor Robertson. “We kept dipping in our side-out percentage each match, but it’s something we can control.
“We didn’t give up fighting, but it just didn’t happen for us today.”
CMU’s junior setter Kathia Sanchez said the team’s focus has to remain constant in order to be successful.
“We need to make the changes that coach wants us to do right away,” Sanchez said. “We think that because we won the first set, we’re going to win the second one, and we just relax. We’re not going to win like that.”
CMU led 7-3 in the fourth set and appeared to be playing like it did in the first set. However, two attack errors and a service error allowed Evansville back in the set.
The Purple Aces would ride that momentum to a win closing the fourth set on a 6-2 run, avenging its 3-1 loss to the Chippewas last season at the Evansville Invite.
Robertson said the Chippewas’ sense of urgency is something that needs improvement.
“We had (urgency) in spurts,” she said. “There were times where we were just scrapping up every single ball, but it’s those crucial moments when you take just a split second off in the middle of play is when those things happen.”
Evansville’s outside hitter Genesis Miranda led all players with 16 kills. Olson said Miranda’s performance was based on the Chippewas poor defensive effort.
“Their 5-foot-9 hitter (Miranda) had her way with our block,” Olson said. “That just can’t happen.”
CMU is back in action tomorrow against San Jose State University at noon at McGuirk Arena.