Volleyball set to take on MAC Tournament host Bowling Green in semifinal showdown


Central Michigan Women's Volleyball Team gathers before a match against Western Michigan Oct. 31 at McGuirk Arena.

These two teams met Oct. 18 in the same venue. 

Central Michigan beat Bowling Green in straight sets to earn its 12th consecutive victory. The Chippewas were led offensively by junior outside hitter Kalina Smith's 13 kills and junior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez's three service aces.

Each of the three sets was decided by three points or less, indicating just how well these teams match up.

The two teams will meet in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Stroh Center.

The Chippewas are the No. 2 seed, having secured the bid by clinching a share of the MAC West title and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Falcons, while the host Falcons are the No. 3 seed. Bowling Green beat No. 7 seed Buffalo in straight sets to advance. 

"I hope we go there to compete," coach Mike Gawlik said. "Once you get into single elimination, you know anything can happen." 

The appearance in the tournament is the first for the Chippewas since 2017 when they were the No. 7 seed and lost to No. 6 seed Western Michigan. 

Only senior libero Megan Kern and juniors Smith, Grace Butler and Hannah Warners were on the roster for that match, so this will be the first experience in the postseason for the majority of this squad. 

"I think there's gonna be a cool buzz about the tournament," Gawlik said. "For some of our athletes, it's the first time they'll experience it. We've only gone once before, and it's gonna be a far different experience with earning the double bye."

The Falcons are led by sophomore outside hitter Katelyn Meyer, who is top in the conference in kills per set with 3.71. Meyer had 23 kills and hit .415 in the Falcons' quarterfinal victory over Buffalo. Freshman outside hitter Petra Indrova is also in the top 10 when it comes to kills per set, as her 3.15 ranks ninth in the MAC. 

The Chippewas struggled early in their previous matchup with the Falcons to overcome the block, as Bowling Green totaled 12 blocks and limited the Chippewas to a .125 hitting percentage. However, the Chippewas were able to overcome this in part due to sophomore outside hitter Sierra Gray's four kill performance in the third set.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Saturday's first semifinal contest between No. 1 seed Miami (Ohio) and No. 4 Ball State. 

The match between the Chippewas and the Falcons is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Saturday, and the winners of the two semifinals will meet in Sunday's MAC Tournament Championship game, which will start at 4:30 p.m.