Volleyball gears up for Youngstown State Invitational

The CMU Volleyball cheers after defeating Eastern Illinois 3-0 during the Chippewa Invitational Friday, Sept. 6.

The Central Michigan volleyball team travels to Ohio to compete in the Youngstown Invitational, and it’s a two-day tournament in which the Chippewas will play three games. 

The first day features CMU twice. They first take on Eastern Illinois in a rematch of an earlier meeting that took place in the Chippewa Invitational. The Chippewas took that match in three sets.

This time, CMU and Eastern Illinois meet in Youngstown at 11 a.m. Friday.

The matchup holds value to the Chippewas and coach Mike Gawlik. Given the team has already played the Panthers once, CMU will treat this game similar to how they treat conference games. 

“The first time we played them at our house, and now we’re playing them away,” said Kalina Smith, noting that matching up with them twice creates “the perfect MAC situation.”

When one looks at the records, the Chippewas are heavy favorites. The Panthers are 0-9. 

But games aren’t won solely by records. 

“They’re due for a breakout match, I just hope it’s not on Friday morning,” Gawlik said.

After the matchup with Eastern Illinois, CMU has its next match scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday against an undefeated Robert Morris squad. It has all the makings of a game in which the Chippewas can prove the legitimacy of their strong start. 

While the Colonials are one of ten teams left unbeaten in the entire country, Gawlik doesn’t want his team to look past the first test – Eastern Illinois. 

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse as far as Eastern Illinois,” Gawlik stated. 

However, Gawlik knows his team will be ready for the Colonials when it's time to take them on. 

The Chippewas play their third and final game of the tournament against host Youngstown State at 2 p.m. Saturday. Youngstown State is 4-6 overall this season.

This tournament is the Chippewas’ last chance to gear up before Mid-American Conference play starts. CMU travels to Northern Illinois on Sept. 27th to open the conference schedule.