MAC Tournament hopes fade as volleyball falls to Ball State in five sets
With its season on the line, Central Michigan’s volleyball team went to Muncie, Indiana and fell in five sets to Ball State Saturday.
The loss opened the door for Eastern Michigan, who could take CMU’s spot in the Mid-American Tournament with a win over Toledo.
The Eagles did just that, defeating Toledo in five sets, eliminating the Chippewas from MAC tournament contention in the process.
CMU finished the season 11-18 overall and 6-10 in the MAC, while Ball State improved to 14-16, and 8-8 in conference play.
In the fifth set, CMU was doomed by a slow start that saw the Cardinals get out to a 6-1 advantage. The Chippewas were able to come back and trailed 11-10, but that was as close as CMU would come to victory.
Ball State pushed its lead to 12-10 when Alex Fuelling recorded her 20th kill of the match. Just like it had been the case all season, mistakes doomed the Chippewas hopes as back-to-back attack errors gave Ball State a 14-10 advantage.
CMU would watch its season presumably come to an end when Ball State’s Mackenzie Kitchel sealed the victory with a game-winning kill crushing the hearts of the Chippewas.
“They left nothing on the court that’s for sure,” said Assistant Head Coach Theresa Beeckman. “The result was extremely unfortunate, but they left it all out there.”
The stage was set for the Chippewas to earn their first MAC tournament berth since 2011 with a win, but Ball State had other plans.
CMU failed to close out Ball State unlike it had done earlier in the season at home. The loss pushed the Chippewas losing streak to three games which was the least of CMU’s problems.
Both teams traded wins in the first four sets, setting up the showdown in the fifth.
“It was really a great match,” Beeckman said. “There were so many rallies where there was just really great volleyball.”
Ball State trailed 2-1 heading into the fourth set. The Cardinals would answer with a 25-19 win in set four forcing the decisive fifth set.
Beeckman said CMU’s inability to pass effectively caused problems throughout the match including in the fourth set.
“It got a little bit inconsistent at really key times,” she said. “Ball State’s gym is notorious for being harder to pass in, and it was that more than anything in set four where they kind of pulled away.”
The Cardinals’ tandem of Kitchel and Fuelling combined for 38 kills which helped Ball State hold off CMU in the match.
The Chippewas grinded out a win in the first set 29-27, and then took set three 25-20. Four Chippewas had double figure kills in the match.
Sophomore Jordan Bueter led CMU in kills with 18, followed by 12 kills from senior Angie White and 10 a piece for sophomores Jessica Meichtry and Taylor Robertson.
“It just wasn’t in the cards,” Beeckman said. “But as far as their effort and controlling the things they could control, they controlled everything that they could control for sure. We just didn’t get the outcome that we wanted.”