Volleyball splits matches to open conference play
The Central Michigan University volleyball team drove to Kalamazoo after a loss to Northern Illinois on Friday.
Beating their rival made the trip worth it.
The Chippewas (6-9, 1-1 MAC) defeated the Western Michigan Broncos 3-2 on Saturday to notch its first Mid-American Conference win of the season. CMU lost to NIU Friday night 3-1 in DeKalb, Illinois.
Friday: Northern Illinois 3, Central Michigan 1 (25-22, 10-25, 20-25, 13-25)
Friday night was the match that got away for the Chippewas.
After pulling off a win in set one and taking the momentum, CMU dropped three straight sets to leave NIU with its first conference loss of the season.
Set two was particularly difficult for the Chippewas, who accumulated a sideout percentage of -.111. CMU was also outblocked 9-5.
Head Coach Erik Olson said his team had troubles with the NIU serve and was sluggish. The environment in DeKalb did not help the young Chippewas, either.
“That environment is the nastiest environment in the MAC,” Olson said. “It was loud and with a lot of young players who don’t have a lot of experience in being in that environment. It got to us.”
Olson said that the nerves were evident in his young team all weekend.
“It’s not really controllable,” Olson said of the nerves. “It looked like it was our first match of the season. We talked about it being a new season, but we have a lot of experience under our belt.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Bueter led CMU with 16 kills, while fellow sophomore outside hitter Taylor Robertson and Jessica Meichtry added 11 and 10, respectively. Junior Kathia Sanchez tallied 32 assists. Bueter added 13 digs while freshman libero Jamison Wolffis recorded 12.
Saturday: Central Michigan 3, Western Michigan 2 (25-27, 25-23, 20-25, 25-17, 15-9)
CMU battled back on Saturday to pick up its first conference win at rival WMU at Kalamazoo College.
“I think we had a nice bounce-back from (Friday) night,” Olson said.
CMU was down 2-1, but poured it on in set four, leading by as many as 10.
“Our passing got a little less crisp in set four, but our team seemed very confident,” Olson said.
In set five, the set was tied at six when the Chippewas went on a 9-3 run, concluded by a kill from senior middle blocker Angie White.
CMU was helped by a lineup change in the middle. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Carey started in place of senior middle blocker Kalle Mulford, helping the Chippewas outblock the Broncos 14-6.
Carey recorded four kills in place of Mulford, who did not play in Saturday’s match.
“I think we needed a little bit better blocking,” Olson said. “Paige has been working on that part of her game. That was the intended reason. She had some crucial kills at crucial times. It was a gamble on my part but I thought we needed to make a change there.”
Meichtry led CMU with 16 kills. Bueter and Robertson tallied 14 and 10 kills, respectively. Sanchez recorded 43 assists and Wolffis led defensively with 22 digs.
Olson cited the play of Meichtry, Sanchez and Wolffis in pulling out the win against the Broncos.
“We had some really good performances from some key positions.”
The Chippewas continue MAC play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Eastern Michigan.