Volleyball can't clinch spot in MAC Tournament after loss to Toledo
The Central Michigan volleyball team was two points away in the fifth set from clinching a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Toledo Rockets decided to blow up the chance of a CMU celebration.
The Chippewas traveled to northern Ohio and fell to last-place Toledo on Friday night in five sets (24-26, 25-23, 26-24, 23-25, 14-16). With the loss, CMU drops to 11-17 (6-9 MAC) to stay a game above fifth-place Eastern Michigan in the MAC West Standings.
The Eagles defeated Ball State 3-1 on Friday to snap a six-match losing streak. The Chippewas have to beat the Cardinals on Saturday night to return to the MAC Tournament in Athens, Ohio, for the first time since 2012.
“As much as we talked about not making (the match) bigger and (not) playing tight, we played tight," said Associate Head Coach Theresa Beeckman. "There’s no way to escape that.”
The Chippewas committed 38 hitting errors on the night compared to Toledo's 27.
CMU jumped out to an early lead in set five as a kill from sophomore outside hitter Taylor Robertson gave the Chippewas the 8-3 advantage. They extended their lead to 10-7 when the Rockets used a 4-1 run to tie the set at 11.
The Chippewas and Toledo tied at 14. The Rockets scored the last two points, the final on a block off the attack of CMU sophomore middle blocker Paige Carey, to win the match.
“We gave such a great effort," Beeckman said. "We executed so well in so many phases of our game and then we would just make a really bad, untimely error.”
CMU was led by sophomore outside hitter Jordan Bueter who totaled three aces. Her 18 kills were one away from tying her career high. Robertson chipped in with 17 while sophomore outside hitter Jessica Meichtry added 11. Freshman libero Jamison Wolffis recorded 28 digs and junior setter Kathia Sanchez tallied 57 assists.
The Chippewas also were aided by the return of senior middle blocker Angie White. White, who had been sidelined since Oct. 16 with a right ankle injury, totaled four kills and three blocks in her return.
“We can’t just throw her back in full-go yet after not playing her for three weeks," Beeckman said of White. "That would be crazy. She looked really good at times. We just need to get her into a groove.”
CMU handed a 17-13 lead in set two over to Toledo but the Chippewas pulled out the win. Down 23-22, Robertson's kill tied it up and back-to-back blocks from Meichtry tied the match at one.
The Chippewas also came back from an 8-3 deficit in set three to tie the set at 15, 16 and 24. A block from Carey and a kill from Robertson pushed the CMU advantage to 2-1.
CMU led 20-17 in set four when the Rockets tied the set up at 20. The set tied at 21 and 22 before Toledo pushed their lead to 24-22. A kill from Bueter cut the lead to 24-23 but a block out-of-bounds tied the match up heading into set five.
Beeckman said the MAC Tournament was in her players' minds during the match.
“This is the first time in a long time where (I thought) Central Michigan has defeated Central Michigan," she said. "We certainly helped them with that win.”
Carey recorded nine kills, two blocks and two aces to help ease the production of White and senior middle blocker Kalle Mulford, who also has been hobbled.
“I think (Carey) has come a long way," Beeckman said. "I'm certainly proud of the progress she has made and the role she taught herself on the team. She’s doing very well and we’re pretty happy with her.”
Toledo improves to 6-22 (3-12 MAC). The Rockets were led by sophomore outside hitter Saige Thomas' 14 kills.
CMU travels to Ball State on Saturday to close out the regular season at 7 p.m. A win against the Cardinals (13-16, 7-8 MAC) would propel the Chippewas into the MAC Tournament next Thursday.
“We came around to a point where some of our veterans spoke up (and said), ‘Guys, the last time we played Ball State, we decided to be awesome,'" Beeckman said. "It has to be about us and deciding how great we can be. We just got to decide to be awesome because when we decide to be awesome, we are.”