MAC tournament chase continues as volleyball hits road this weekend
After dropping a five-set heartbreaker to Ball State to end last weekend 0-2, the Central Michigan volleyball team heads to Kalamazoo and DeKalb this weekend for matches against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
The Chippewas and Broncos sit in a three-way tie with Eastern Michigan — all 3-9 in the Mid-American Conference — for the eighth place slot in the league. The top eight teams advance to the MAC tournament.
"We're running out of time and I think we need to make something happen here," head coach Mike Gawlik said. "At the end of the day, we can't take back any of the matches that we let get away from us but at the same time we can only prepare for the matches that are upcoming."
The Chippewas square off against the Broncos at 7 p.m. Friday at University Arena in Read Fieldhouse. CMU will face NIU at 8 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
Scouting Western Michigan
Looking ahead to Friday, Gawlik said he hopes to see the consistent fight his team showed against Ball State last weekend.
"We're in a good spot to kind of control our own fate," he said. "We have to take care of business and play a Western team that also has their backs against the wall for that eighth and final spot."
WMU took the Chippewas to five sets before CMU came away with the victory in their first meeting with the Broncos on Oct. 2 at McGuirk Arena.
"We have made this upward battle towards the way we want to win," said junior outside hitter Jordan Bueter. "Beating Western in three would be a great step forward for us."
Bueter leads the Chippewas' attack with 304 kills on the season, ranking her fourth in the MAC in kills per set. WMU's junior middle blocker Sydney LeMay — also with 304 total kills — is ranked fifth in the MAC, averaging 3.2 kills per set to Bueter's 3.42.
The Broncos went 0-2 last weekend with a 3-1 loss to the Huskies last Thursday and a straight-set loss to Bowling Green last Saturday. WMU is 8-17 overall and has lost its last four matches.
Scouting Northern Illinois
NIU dropped its first match since Sept. 10 last Saturday to MAC East-leading Miami in straight sets, 22-25, 20-25, 23-25.
The Huskies' senior middle blocker Jenna Radtke is ranked No. 2 in the MAC in hitting percentage (.390) and blocks (94). Senior outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly leads the Huskies with 280 kills.
The Huskies are now 19-5 overall and 11-1 in the MAC, ranking them in second place in the league behind the RedHawks.