Volleyball rides momentum into clash with Eastern Michigan
Riding a seven-match winning streak and a 12-2 start to the season, the Chippewas ride an enormous wave of confidence into their match with the Eagles.
Central Michigan takes that streak of seven victories into Ypsilanti for a clash with rival Eastern Michigan on Thursday at 7 p.m. The opposition is 5-9 on the season.
It will be the Chippewas' last road game before a three-game homestand. However, while coach Mike Gawlik is eager to return home, he is not looking past the Eagles.
"It's always a tough place to play," said Gawlik of the Convocation Center, where EMU plays their home volleyball games. "They've got a lot of returners from a year ago."
Thursday night is an important mark in the season for Eastern Michigan. It is their first home conference match, and the Eagles will have a banner raising ceremony for the 2018 squad that won the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The Eagles are paced by redshirt senior Cassie Haut, who ranks among the top ten in the conference in hitting percentage as well as kills, points and blocks per set. Junior Frankie Strefling leads the Eagles in kills.
Central Michigan is eager to continue to build on its momentum. The Chippewas swept the MAC West awards for their performance on the road with victories over Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. Megan Kern won her second straight defensive player of the week award, Megan Sivertsen took home offensive player of the week, while Grace Butler and Kendall Braate shared the setter of the week award.
Not to be overlooked, junior Kalina Smith continues to pace the Chippewas as an outside hitter, averaging 3.72 kills per set. That number is good for second in the conference. Sivertsen and teammate Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez are each in the top ten in hitting percentage. Kern is third in digs.
"You have to create and bring your own energy," said Gawlik of the impending road game at Eastern, "I don't think they can be defined by a slow start on the road."
After Eastern, the Chippewas return home to take on Kent State. That match is scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 5. It will be the Chippewas first home game since Sept. 7.