Volleyball hosts Akron, Buffalo to begin second half of MAC schedule
The Central Michigan volleyball team is gearing up for a Mid-American Conference West Division run with visits from MAC East foes.
The Chippewas host Akron on Friday and Buffalo on Saturday at 7 p.m. at McGuirk Arena. The matches mark the beginning of the second half of the MAC schedule for CMU (9-12, 4-4 MAC).
Associate Head Coach Theresa Beeckman is excited for the opportunity to go up against two opponents from the other side of the conference for the second consecutive week.
“I don’t expect this to be anything more than a struggle and a battle and we have to fight for it,” Beeckman said. “We have to be careful about both opponents and get better every day.”
Beeckman said she has already viewed film of Akron, who comes to Mount Pleasant with a 7-14 record (1-7 MAC). The Zips are tied with Bowling Green for last place in the MAC East.
Akron is led by junior Amanda Bedell, who leads the team and is ninth in the conference with 204 kills. Akron also has three players in the Top 10 in aces, with senior Dragana Micic tied for first in the conference with 31.
Despite the Zips’ poor record, Beeckman warned of the competition level they will bring to McGuirk Arena.
“Everybody’s going to fight for every single point and if we’re not getting better every single day and preparing just as hard for every opponent, it’s all for nothing,” she said.
Buffalo ranks third in the MAC East with a 2-6 conference record but is 3-17 overall. The Bulls are led by senior Megan Lipski, who is eighth in the conference with 3.05 kills per set. Senior Marissa Prinzbach has 567 assists and sophomore Cassie Shado averages 1.05 blocks per set.
Beeckman said that the matches this week are vital to the team going forward.
“I do think it’s extremely important to take care of one point at a time, being the best we can be and go get them,” she said. “These are crucial games for us.”
Last season, the Chippewas swept Akron in Ohio but fell to the Bulls in Buffalo, 3-1. Kaitlyn McIntyre returned from injury to tally a combined 30 kills in both matches for CMU.
The Chippewas will look to replace McIntyre’s efforts with junior middle blocker Angie White. White recorded 17 kills against the Bulls and Zips last season and said the team must play with passion and be focused to achieve success.
“Every year, every team is different,” White said. “You can’t really go off what happened last year. You can only play in the present and roll with whatever they got going this year. It doesn’t really matter what they’re doing, we know what we’re doing. We’re just focused on us.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Bueter has been pegged as a leader for the young team going forward into the second half of the season. She said the key for this weekend is to be consistent.
“I think (it’s about) embracing what we have right now and running with it,” Bueter said. “What we have now is what we’ve got. We’ve got to just keep going.”
CMU fell to Miami (Ohio) in four sets and swept Bowling Green last weekend on the road. They return to McGuirk Arena with a 4-2 home record and will begin a five-game home stand that runs through Nov. 5.
“This team seems to respond pretty well to being home,” Beeckman said. “McGuirk has been really nice to us. I think the support we’ve gotten from the student section and from fans in general has been awesome. It’s rocking in here.”
The second half of MAC play will pose some challenges for the Chippewas. With top teams Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Ohio looming, Beeckman said this is an opportunity to create separation from other MAC opponents.
Bueter added the importance of her teammates in attempting to win these two non-division games at home. She feels no pressure to replace McIntyre’s kills from last season.
“I know I have a full team behind me,” she said. “That was awesome that (McIntyre) got double kills and I think other people are able to get that too. The whole team’s different this year.”
White has high expectations for her team going into the second half of conference play.
“We just got to keep building off of each day and if we keep doing that we’ll be in the tournament and probably the finals,” she said.