CMU volleyball wins 12th straight, sweeps Bowling Green


Freshman middle blocker Maddie Whitfield goes up for a hit against opponent Ohio University on Saturday, Sept. 22 in McGuirk Arena. 

Central Michigan's volleyball team needed a win at Bowling Green to maintain its perfect record in Mid-American Conference play.

Not only did CMU win, it swept the Falcons at the Stroh Center. With the sweep, the Chippewas earned their 12th win in a row. 

Despite defeating the Falcons in straight sets, it was a closely contested match. 

After taking each of the first two sets, both of which were thrilling and decided by a total of five points, the Chippewas (17-2, 7-0) fell behind early in the third set. 

Bowling Green took a 9-5 lead after a kill by middle blocker Nikolija Katanic, leaving the Chippewas needing a spark to get back into the set. 

Enter Ara Wilson and Sierra Gray. 

Wilson, a junior outside hitter, rifled a kill past the Falcon defense to make it 9-6. The sophomore outside hitter Gray had four kills in the third set alone, and the Chippewas rallied to win the set and sweep the match against Bowling Green. 

"Sierra and Ara both provided a big spark off the bench," said coach Mike Gawlik. "Sierra has one of the biggest arms in the league and I love how aggressive she is right out of the gates."

During the week, Gawlik expected Bowling Green to block its fair share of balls, so his team was aware that the Falcons were going to knock some Chippewa opportunities down. 

Once again, preparation proved to be key. The Falcons went on a tear in the second set, blocking numerous Chippewa offensive chances. However, because the Chippewas had prepared for this possibility, they weren't phased. 

"I think we needed to remind our team and each other to stay patient and composed throughout the rally," Gawlik said. 

Tied at 24 in the second set, Kalina Smith launched a kill that barely landed in bounds. At first, the ball was ruled to have landed out of bounds, but after a challenge by Gawlik, the call was overturned and the point went to the Chippewas. 

Bowling Green scored to tie the set at 25, but back-to-back kills by Smith gave the Chippewas the set victory. 

Smith finished the night with 13 kills and 18 digs, both team highs. Junior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez finished with 10 kills to go along with three blocks. 

Maddie Whitfield, a sophomore outside hitter, finished with five blocks to lead the team, while fellow sophomore Savannah Thompson finished with 17 digs. 

Central Michigan next takes the court at 2:30 p.m. Sunday when it takes on Miami (Ohio) in Oxford, Ohio.