CMU volleyball wins first match, drops second in season opener at Ohio


Central Michigan middle blocker Maddie Whitfield spikes the ball against Western Michigan Oct. 31 at McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan's volleyball team had waited 14 months to play a real opponent. 

This week, the Chippewas finally got the opportunity.

The Chippewas traveled to the Ohio Convocation Center in Athens to kick off their 22-game Mid-American Conference season Friday and Saturday, and were delivered their first win as well as their first loss, making them 1-1 in the MAC.

Match one

CMU (1-1) had no time to waste getting its nerves out in the first match on Friday, taking advantage of Ohio's early-game errors and winning the first set 25-20. Ohio (1-1) bounced back and took the lead in the second set, and after a 21-hour delay at set point due to a power outage, the Bobcats took the set 25-22.

In the third set of the first match Saturday, CMU proved to have a strong offensive start over Ohio as it maintained the lead for the entire set, while Ohio struggled to work its way around the Chippewa lineup both offensively and defensively. 

After three sets, both teams are well warmed up to each other's movements and actions, but Ohio finds the groove and was able to consistently slip around CMU's defense. With intense physicality in their swings that CMU struggles to counter, the Bobcats secured the fourth set 25-19, making the match 2-2.  

Both teams are at maximum focus in the tiebreaker set -- CMU only committed two errors and Ohio had four. Keeping the score close up until the end, the Chippewas won 15-13, claiming the match victory 3-2. 

CMU's ability to start a set strong definitely paid off in the first set on Friday as well as the third set  on Saturday, as its team attack percentages were noticeably higher than Ohio's in both sets. In the first set, CMU's team attack percentage was .310 while Ohio's was .097, and in the third, CMU had .312 to Ohio's 0.65. 

Match two

After winning the first match 3-2, CMU and Ohio stepped back onto the court a few hours later for the second match of the weekend. 

The Chippewas and the Bobcats opened the first set of the second match with powerful plays from both ends, and the two teams went back-and-forth on the scoreboard until the middle of the set. The Bobcats found a way around the Chippewas' defense again, allowing them to force a standstill and run with the lead. CMU fell short in the first set, which Ohio won 25-15.

Looking for redemption in the second set, the Chippewas pushed to put points on the board early on, but Ohio's powerful offense continued to cause problems for CMU and the score was quickly tied up tight at 24. Both teams refused to back down and a number of intense rallies ended in Ohio securing another set 31-29 and taking a 2-0 lead.

CMU needed to find a way to secure the third set to keep the match going, but it couldn't. The Chippewas started slow and Ohio took the lead and the Chippewas could not catch up and the Bobcats cleaned up their sweep victory with a 25-22 win in the third set. 

Impact players

Junior outside hitter Savannah Thompson led CMU in kills with 14 in the first match and 18 in the second. 

Sophomore outside hitter Anna Erickson who had 17 in the first and 14 in the second. Junior libero Kendall Braate started in both matches and had a total of 32 digs -- 21 in the first, 11 in the second -- while Thompson followed suit with 27 total digs (15 and 12). 

Up Next

The Chippewas will host Kent State for the season opener at 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 in McGuirk Arena. CMU won the only meeting with the Golden Flashes last season, 3-1, in McGuirk Arena.