Volleyball confident it can pull things together with tough week ahead
After going 1-1 at home against a pair of teams near the bottom of the Mid-American Conference East Division standings, Associate Head Coach Theresa Beeckman said the Central Michigan volleyball team knows how to win.
Beeckman was confident in her team despite a 3-2 loss on Saturday to Buffalo (5-17, 4-6 MAC) at McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas (10-13, 5-5 Mid-American Conference) dropped the fifth set 15-13 Saturday after beating Akron 3-1 on Friday to fall back to .500 in MAC play.
Beeckman said the loss was difficult and added the Bulls’ blocking (18 team total) gave her squad problems throughout the match.
“That was tough,” she said. “We try not to play just for the outcome of the game. It sucks that we didn’t get the final score and especially with how tight we played that fifth set, it could have been the other way. It just wasn’t.”
The Chippewas will now have to regroup with the two top teams in the MAC West, Northern Illinois (12-10, 8-2 MAC) and Western Michigan (10-15, 6-4 MAC), traveling to Mount Pleasant next week.
Despite the loss, Beeckman took a few positives from the weekend.
“In that loss, we got a ton better,” Beeckman said. “They were in it to win it. We weren’t going to play not to lose. This team impresses me with that loss.”
CMU played its second match in a row without senior middle blocker Angie White, who is out indefinitely with a right ankle injury.
Senior middle blocker Kalle Mulford recorded 12 kills and Paige Carey added six. Beeckman said Carey did not have the greatest weekend offensively, but the sophomore middle blocker stood out.
“Kudos to how deep the team is getting,” she said. “(Carey) came in and did a great job. She scored 11 points (on Friday). That’s huge. She had an outstanding week of practice, prepared herself, came in and she was awesome.”
Mulford knew her role would continue to expand until White’s return. Her contributions at the net were critical to 25 total team blocks made by the Chippewas this weekend.
“I knew going into this weekend that Angie was going to be out,” Mulford said. “We talked together about what I need to do. When she’s out, we just have to step up and do what we can. She’s there for me all the time on the bench. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
The Chippewas also had double-digit kills in both matches from their top three outside hitters sophomores Jordan Bueter, Jessica Meichtry and Taylor Robertson.
Part of their success is due to the sets from junior setter Kathia Sanchez. Sanchez recorded 50 assists on Saturday to total 95 for the weekend, despite saying she was struggling due to “overthinking” different rotations.
“I’m just trying to get my hitters in good situations,” Sanchez said. “That’s my goal.”
It is part of the process for Beeckman and the Chippewas, who will have to get things straightened out with the Huskies and rival Broncos coming to town.
Beeckman said when she called a timeout in the fifth set with CMU trailing 13-10, she saw something in her team.
“Not one of them had any kind of doubt or any kind or hesitation in how they passed and served after that,” she said. “That’s the stuff you’re going to need if you want to come through the MAC tournament.”
Beeckman added that her team’s passing and serving is “fantastic” right now and that her team will need to have a good week of practice and rest for NIU and WMU.
CMU opened up MAC play with a road loss at NIU but received its first win in Kalamazoo since 2006 the next day. The Chippewas will have the luxury of playing this next pair of conference games at home. CMU is 5-3 at McGuirk Arena this season.
“Playing at home especially as a veteran is just phenomenally helpful,” Mulford said. “You know the court better. It’s more fun. You can’t come in and tell us you are going to beat us because you don’t even know where you are. It’s a huge advantage and I’m looking forward to it.”
Beeckman said her team is not thinking win streaks right now. She said her team is focused on playing their best volleyball down the stretch and is hoping they find some “magic when the time is exactly right.”
“These guys know how to win,” she said. “It sucks we didn’t win (Saturday), but they know how to win. That’s the most important thing down the stretch.”