Late run gives Buffalo five-set victory over Central Michigan
It wasn’t the expected outcome, but the confidence level is still high for Central Michigan’s volleyball team.
If anything, the Chippewas gained confidence after their 3-2 loss to Buffalo Saturday at McGuirk Arena.
The Bulls (5-17, 4-6 MAC) fended off fierce comeback efforts from CMU all night, including in the final set when the Chippewas pulled to within one point, forcing UB to call timeout leading 13-12.
But like they had done all evening, the Bulls answered, using a defensive block by Cassie Shado and Akeila Lain to escape with a 15-13 set win, and the five-set victory.
Even facing a fifth-set defeat in the eyes, Head Coach Theresa Beeckman said her team never looked defeated.
“We were down 13-10 heading into the timeout, and I’m looking into their eyes during the timeout and not one of them, for one second, had any kind of doubt,” she said.
Beeckman said the team’s resilience throughout the match will help them moving forward.
“In that loss, we got a ton better,” she said. “I’m just so impressed with (how they had) zero fear. They were in it to win it, and we weren’t going to play not to lose, and we didn’t for one second.”
Although the loss dropped CMU to 10-13 overall, and 5-5 in the MAC, the Chippewas did not appear to be heartbroken.
“That was tough obviously,” Beeckman said. “We try not to play just for the outcome of the game, so it sucks that we couldn’t get the final score. With how tight we played that fifth set, it could have easily been the other way.”
CMU’s offense was led by junior setter Kathia Sanchez, who finished the match with 50 assists. Jordan Bueter had 17 kills, and Jessica Meichtry added 14.
“I was overthinking too much (in the beginning),” Sanchez said. “I felt way better at the end. I still feel the adrenaline going right now.”
CMU was unable to avenge its 3-1 loss to the Bulls from a year ago, and UB’s calm approach caused problems for the Chippewas.
“Buffalo is always really tough whether we play them here or at Buffalo because they don’t like to have fun when they play volleyball for some reason,” said senior middle blocker Kalle Mulford. “It always really challenging to keep our spirits up, and I think that did get us sometimes.”
Shado led Buffalo with 15 kills, Megan Lipski added 13 and two Bulls finished with 10.
After going into intermission tied 1-1, CMU jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead at the start of the third set, and seemed to be on its way to a 2-1 advantage.
However, the Bulls responded with its offensive play. UB led 17-13, putting the pressure on the Chippewas. CMU wouldn’t quit either, tying it at 23.
Neither team would yield late as the third set went into extra play. There were six ties and three lead changes after the match was tied at 23.
UB had set point five times, but the Chippewas answered with timely kills and blocks.
CMU had a chance to close out the set twice, leading 27-26, and again at 28-27, but a service error gave momentum to the Bulls, and UB finished off CMU 30-28.
The Chippewas rebounded in the fourth set, leading from start to finish for a 25-18 win, setting up the decisive fifth set.
Errors committed by the Bulls allowed the Chippewas to take set one 25-20. In set two, the Bulls’ defense answered late, finishing off CMU 25-23 with back-to-back blocks.
UB finished the game with 17 total team blocks, a key factor in its victory.
“Their block gave us a run tonight,” said Assistant Head Coach Theresa Beeckman. “They’re not known to be a good blocking team, so that was interesting.”
CMU looks to rebound next weekend against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois at McGuirk Arena.