Chippewa volleyball falls to Kent State in competitive match

Powell, Wyoming senior outside hitter Kalina Smith spikes the ball against Kent State during a Jan. 29 match between CMU and Kent State in McGuirk Arena.
CMU dropped its third-straight match with a 3-1 loss to Kent State on Friday in McGuirk Arena. Sports editor Austin Chastain breaks down the match in this video. Austin Chastain

Disappointment flashed across the faces of CMU's volleyball team as an attempted kill from senior outside hitter Kalina Smith sailed long. 

In a closely-fought match, the Chippewas fell to Kent State 3-1 in Mid-American Conference action Friday at McGuirk Arena. 

Despite the third-straight loss, the Chippewas (1-3) showed fight to keep pace with the Golden Flashes (2-0) after coming out flat in Thursday night's defeat. 

CMU head coach Mike Gawlik said he was happy with his team's fight but needed to find one more play when sets get tight. 

"Our fight from (Thursday) was a lot better," Gawlik said. "We were a lot more cohesive on the floor, we did some good things in terms of creating opportunities. ... There's a small difference in winning by two and losing by two and we needed one more play in that moment."

Impact moments

In the first set, the Chippewas built up a six-point lead at 22-16 before the Golden Flashes went on a 6-0 run to tie the set. However, CMU found a way to hold off KSU and take the opening set, 26-24, with a strong offensive effort from Smith, junior middle blocker Maddie Whitfield and sophomore outside hitter Anna Erickson.

Senior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez said it was important to start off strong after the sting from Thursday's loss.

"We got fired up," Rosario-Martinez said. "(After the loss), we got kind of down, losing 3-0 in our house. (Friday morning), we were just like, 'OK, let's go, we have to do better and go and get it.'" 

KSU grabbed a 9-8 lead in the second set off an attack error from Erickson and did not look back, taking the second set 25-15.

The third set went to the proverbial wire as the Chippewas battled to keep the score in range, but the Golden Flashes held off CMU to win the third, 25-23. 

After a hard-fought fourth set, the Chippewas found themselves tied with Kent State at 22 apiece after a kill from Rosario-Martinez. However, two attack errors propelled the Golden Flashes to the 25-22 set win and seal the match, 3-1. 

"We made some significant changes in our grit, fight and intensity from (Thursday)," Gawlik said. "There are things we have to iron out in sets that are separated by two points, you have to be able to flip one of those emotional points in your favor." 

Chippewa leaders

Smith led the way with 13 kills with a 21.2 hitting percentage. Thompson had 12 kills and 43 total attacks, which led the team. 

Kamryn Olson had a team-high 22 assists while senior setter Grace Butler had 18. 

Junior libero Kendall Braate had 19 digs to pace the defense. 

Kent State leaders

Sophomore Savannah Matthews led the Golden Flashes with 22 kills. KSU had four total attackers with double-digit kills. 

Junior setter Alex Haffner had match-highs (58) in assists and kills (4). 

Up next

CMU is set to host Northern Illinois on Thursday (6 p.m.) and Friday (2 p.m.) in McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas won both matches against the Huskies last season, including a sweep in McGuirk Arena.