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Volleyball battles back against Toledo for win


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The Central Michigan volleyball team won its 11th straight game Saturday night.

However, the Mid-American Conference win did not come easy.

The Chippewas (16-2, 6-0 MAC) took on the Toledo Rockets (7-11, 0-6 MAC) looking to make another statement and came out on top, 3-2.

“We came out (in) set one, and we kind of shot out of a cannon,” said coach Mike Gawlik of his team’s performance in the first set. “I thought we were ready to play and really jumped out to an early lead and you can get lulled into the fact that it’s gonna be your night.”

Things started tightly contested during the first set with four ties and three lead changes before the Chippewas earned nine straight points on their way to a 13-6 lead. Eventually, the team came out on top, 25-15, to win the set.

Sophomore middle blocker Maddie Whitfield played a key role in the first set with three kills and a 1.000 hitting percent.

Freshman outside hitter Anna Erickson led the team with four kills in the opening set. 

Things started slowly in set two for the Chippewas. The Rockets held a 14-10 lead at one point, before Gawlik called a timeout, attempting to compose the team and get things turned around for the set.

Toledo held the lead 24-19 and the Chippewas began a charge forward hoping to still win the set. The Chippewas scored four straight points, bringing the score to 24-23, but Toledo came through and won the set, 25-23.

Toledo was able to get off to another fast start in the third set, taking an early lead until the Chippewas were able to tie the set at 10-10. 

After surrendering the lead again, the Chippewas mounted a comeback that fell just short. The Rockets won the third set, 25-23. 

The fourth set began closely contested, the teams were tied 6-6 and looking to gain momentum down the stretch. 

The Chippewas started to take control with a 10-7 lead, but the Rockets fought back, drawing even at 13-13.

The two teams were trading points back and forth throughout the rest of the fourth set. 

With the Chippewas up 24-21, sophomore outside hitter Savannah Thompson ended the set with an impressive kill, bringing on the fifth.

“When our backs against the wall we knew that set four had to be the only focus for us,” Gawlik said. “We’ve got a group that’s been in the fight before and the messaging was just that we deserve to be aggressive, we deserve to have confidence in this moment because we’ve earned that.”

CMU appeared locked in as the fifth set started, winning 4 of the first 6 points. The Rockets would not be deterred, eventually tying the game, 11-11.

With the game on the line, Thompson got yet another kill to end the match and give the Chippewas a 15-13 set win and a 3-2 match win.

“I think a big thing that we try to focus on for our team is being aggressive towards the end,” Thompson said. “We knew that shotting and tipping wasn’t gonna work for us, so I had confidence from my teammates knowing that when they put that ball up I had to swing.”

Thompson finished the match with a team-high 16 kills, 20 digs behind only senior libero Megan Kern, who finished with 31 digs. Whitfield led the team with a .292 hitting percentage and junior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez finished second on the team with 15 kills.

Up next for the Chippewas is another two-match weekend MAC slate. 

CMU will have two away games – the first against Bowling Green (10-8, 4-2 MAC) on Friday and the second against Miami (Ohio) (8-8, 3-2 MAC) Oct. 20.

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