Bueter, seniors lead volleyball to pivotal win over Eastern Michigan
It was a night of celebration for the Central Michigan volleyball team.
As the team's seniors celebrated their final match at McGuirk Arena, the Chippewas celebrated after downing Eastern Michigan 3-1 (27-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20) to move up to seventh place in the Mid-American Conference standings by a half game over Buffalo.
The Chippewas improve to 11-15 (6-7 MAC) to remain in fourth place in the MAC West. CMU would make the MAC Tournament if it started today. The Eagles fell to 12-14 (4-9 MAC) with three games to play.
“We kept bringing it," said Associate Head Coach Theresa Beeckman. "We had some outstanding performances and some gutsy performances from some people who just battled. I couldn’t be more happy for them.”
Beeckman called the match with the Eagles a "dogfight."
“We wanted to treat this game like a championship game without making it bigger than it was," she said.
CMU got off to a solid start with an intense first set. After being tied at 13, the Eagles went on a 7-1 run forcing CMU to call a timeout.
The Chippewas regrouped, however. CMU used a block and kill from senior middle blocker Kalle Mulford to inch closer, and sophomore outside hitter Jordan Bueter tied it at 20 with a kill.
CMU tied the set at 21 after a kill from Mulford and Bueter tied it up at 22 later. The set was tied at 24 and 25 when sophomore outside hitter Taylor Robertson hit the ball out of bound,s but was touched by an EMU player. A block from fellow sophomore outside hitter Jessica Meichtry sealed the victory for CMU.
The Chippewas could not pull away in the second set after a Robertson kill tied the match at 10. The Eagles scored five straight points leading up to the media timeout. CMU narrowed the lead by as much as two, but the Eagles prevailed to tie the match at one before intermission.
CMU came out of the locker room ready to play for the third set. Back-to-back blocks by junior setter Kathia Sanchez and sophomore middle blocker Paige Carey extended CMU's lead to 12-8. EMU crawled back to a one-point deficit, 22-21, when CMU used an Eagles' out-of-bounds and two kills from Robertson to lead the match 2-1.
The Chippewas jumped out to a 5-0 lead in set four, forcing the Eagles to call a timeout. EMU rallied to tie it at 14 but the Chippewas used four key kills from Robertson down the stretch to win the match.
Bueter returned from an undisclosed injury to lead the team with 16 kills.
“It’s definitely weird being out and then coming back," she said. "You’re so grateful for your team.”
Robertson added 14 kills and Mulford had 11. Sanchez tallied 44 assists while freshman libero Jamison Wolffis dug out a team-high 31 balls.
“We decided to come out and give it our all," Wolffis said. "We communicated a lot more and got the job done."
Thursday's match was the McGuirk Arena swan song for Mulford, senior middle blocker Angie White and senior defensive specialist Haley Barker.
While White was sidelined with a right ankle injury, Barker and Mulford left their final mark on CMU's John G. Kulhavi Court. Barker recorded 19 digs, which Bueter called "unreal." Mulford's play in the middle was a reason the Chippewas out-blocked the Eagles 10-4.
“(Mulford) played a courageous match," Beeckman said. "When you get to be in your fourth year, the wheels get a little tired. Her wheels were getting a little tired and you would have never known it. She battled.”
CMU travels to Ohio to take on the Bobcats on Saturday at 7 p.m. Ohio is tied for first in the MAC with Kent State with a 10-3 conference record (20-6 overall). Athens, Ohio is where the Chippewas will look to get to as the MAC Tournament will be held on the Bobcats' home court.
“It’s about us," Beeckman said. "If we’re us and we play our game we feel that we can take anybody on.”