Volleyball controls its own destiny in final weekend of regular season
Beeckman: 'It’s not about next year, it’s not about in two years. It’s about this moment right now, especially with what we’ve gone through this season.'
The last time the Central Michigan volleyball team made the Mid-American Conference Tournament was in 2012.
Now, the Chippewas are looking to head back to the Athens, Ohio tournament for the first time in three seasons with a win this Friday at Toledo or Saturday at Ball State. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
Instead of focusing on the result, Associate Head Coach Theresa Beeckman said she wants her team to focus on effort and execution.
“Right now, we’re focused on what we can control,” Beeckman said. “We don’t control whether we win or lose. There’s the propensity or urge to make the game bigger than it is. We can’t focus on trying to win the game. When you’re just trying to win, you get yourself into trouble.”
CMU defeated Toledo 3-0 and Ball State 3-1 at home in October. Now, the Chippewas will have to go on the road to clinch a spot in the MAC Tournament.
“Ball State’s got a big gym and they’ve got a rowdy crowd, but that shouldn’t affect us,” said sophomore outside hitter Taylor Robertson. “They’re both good teams, but we just have to play our game.”
Toledo (5-22, 2-12 MAC) ranks dead last in the conference along with Akron. The Rockets are led by sophomore Rachel Vidourek, whose .317 hitting percentage places fifth in the conference.
Ball State (13-15, 7-7 MAC) sits in sixth place in the MAC West one game ahead of CMU, while Buffalo is seventh due to a tiebreaker they have over the Chippewas. If eighth-place CMU (11-16, 6-8 MAC) wins both of its matches this weekend and Buffalo loses once, CMU jumps to the No. 6 seed for next week’s tournament.
“We just need to play our game,” Robertson said. “There really isn’t anything special getting into the MAC (Tournament). There isn’t like a secret formula or anything. If we just play our game and do what we do best, we’ll be successful.”
The Chippewas are hobbled at the middle blocker position. Senior Kalle Mulford was limited at practice but is still expected to play this weekend. Senior Angie White has not seen action since action since Oct. 16 with a right ankle injury.
White said it is a day-to-day process and her goal is to make it back for the MAC Tournament.
“It’s a good experience regardless of whether or not I’m playing,” White said. “It’s obviously an emotional experience to be out there one last time. Regardless of whether or not it happens, it was a great experience. I have a great four years to reflect on.”
A trip to Athens would be just another chapter to a crazy story that has been the 2015 CMU volleyball season, after three non-seniors from last year’s roster did not return and Head Coach Erik Olson was placed on paid leave of absence on Oct. 6.
Beeckman said a tournament appearance would highlight the year.
“I wanted to make sure this season was one to remember,” she said. “It’s really about the journey of the whole thing. The more you can embrace that and the less you can worry about the results, the better the results tend to be.”
White said her team should get the award for ability to adapt.
“You could literally throw anything our way at this point and we’d just roll with it and be successful doing it,” she said.
Robertson said this has been the craziest season of volleyball she has ever played. Beeckman is hoping the freshmen and sophomores can seize the opportunity of playing in the conference tournament.
“I hope they drive this year,” she said. “It’s not about next year, it’s not about in two years. It’s about this moment right now, especially with what we’ve gone through this season. I really just want it so bad for them.”