Volleyball's Whitfield becomes latest to win Defensive Player of the Week

Freshmen middle blocker Maddie Whitfield spikes the ball against Miami on Oct. 13 at McGuirk Arena.

They say defense wins championships. If that creed holds true, Central Michigan is in good shape. 

Sophomore middle blocker Maddie Whitfield became the third Chippewa volleyball player to win the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week award, joining senior libero Megan Kern and junior outside hitter Kalina Smith. 

Smith won the award last week after Kern was honored three consecutive weeks.

"Maddie had a really good weekend blocking for us against two of the top teams in the league," said coach Mike Gawlik. "Her blocking is an emotional lift for the team."

After spending three weeks nursing an injury, the sophomore has spent the majority of the conference season working on getting back to full health, only playing in certain situations. This weekend was a breakout for her, as she contributed a total of 15 blocks in the Chippewas' two contests. 

In a three-set victory over Bowling Green, Whitfield stood out with five blocks and six kills, proving to be a force against a notoriously tough Falcon defense.

The Chippewas suffered their first conference loss of the season Sunday, snapping their 12-game win streak. Whitfield contributed a career high 10 blocks in the five-set loss. 

"She's an elite level blocker that is still learning each and every game," Gawlik added. 

After splitting the weekend, the Chippewas are now 17-3 on the season and welcome in MAC East Division leader Akron at 6 p.m. Friday in McGuirk Arena.