Volleyball wins Youngstown State Red & White Invitational

Outside Hitter, Kalina Smith, moves to spike the ball during the Chippewa Invitational Friday, Sept. 6.

Tough start, strong finish. 

After falling behind to Eastern Illinois two sets to zero, the Central Michigan volleyball team started its two-day tour of dominance throughout the Youngstown State Red & White Invitational, winning nine consecutive sets over the course of three matches. 

The Chippewas (10-2) defeated the Panthers, 3-2, with set scores of 22-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-17, and 15-13. 

In the opener, junior outside hitter Kalina Smith and freshman opposite hitter Anna Erickson led CMU’s attack with 11 kills apiece. Senior libero Megan Kern had 37 digs, and sophomore setter Kendall Braate had 26 assists. Junior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez and Kern each had two service aces. 

In its next match, CMU took on Robert Morris. The Chippewas took a closely contested first set, 26-24 before taking control of the match, winning the last two sets 25-20 and 25-17 on their way to the sweep. 

Smith had a phenomenal match, as she delivered 21 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Sierra Gray also had eight kills. 

Kern had 24 digs while Braate had 29 assists. Junior setter Grace Butler also had 17 assists, while Megan Sivertsen and Gray each had two blocks defensively for CMU. 

Riding the wave of momentum caused by Friday’s big wins, the Chippewas rolled into a matchup Saturday with the tournament host Youngstown State. 

CMU won the first two sets handily, 25-18, before winning the third set and sweeping the final match of the weekend, 25-22. 

Smith, a junior from Powell, Wyoming, was named MVP of the tournament, and rightfully so. She contributed 12 more kills in the match against the Penguins. 

Butler led the team in assists 20 and Kern had 17 digs in the finale. Freshman defensive specialist Kasey Firestone also had eight digs for CMU. 

Rosario-Martinez had a big match against the Penguins on defense, as she had four blocks. Braate also had three.  

With the perfect weekend, Central Michigan rolls into Mid-American Conference play on a five-game winning streak. 

CMU heads faces off against Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27 in DeKalb, Illinois. The Huskies currently sit at 3-11 on the year.