Volleyball sinks Zips, shows growth as team
Savannah Thompson wants to see growth from her teammates with each back-to-back weekend in the revised Mid-American Conference volleyball schedule.
After CMU lost three of its first four matches, needing to spark a rebound took a lot of growth.
The Chippewas have won four straight matches with a 3-1 victory over Akron on Friday in McGuirk Arena and showed plenty of growth to earn the weekend sweep.
CMU (7-5) took down the Zips (3-9) after winning the first two sets and losing the third, similar to Thursday's five-set victory.
This time, it was different.
This time, the Chippewas grew and rebounded.
"In a perfect world, we would have beat them 3-0," Thompson said. "We showed growth from (Thursday), which is something we always want to do playing the same team back-to-back. I'm proud of how we used everyone on our team to our advantage; everyone contributed in a specific way and that shows how we're growing as a team and I'm excited about how things are moving forward."
CMU built up a lead in the first set, as Akron was closing in to tie it up, an attempted kill from Whitfield went long -- pulling Akron to within a point at 11-10. A failed challenge from head coach Mike Gawlik kept the point for the Zips.
After the failed challenge, the Chippewas jumped out to a 5-1 run, forcing the Zips to burn both timeouts quickly.
Akron returned fire and went on a 6-0 run toward the end of the set to cut the CMU lead to 23-22.
CMU held off the Zips and wrapped up a 25-23 set win with a kill from Thompson.
The Chippewas took control of the second set and blew the score wide open. Opening with a 10-2 run and turning defense into offense with block kills, the Chippewas executed well on both sides to win the second set 25-6.
However, after the dominant second set — and looking for the sweep — the Chippewas had a letdown in the second set. Akron controlled the pace and the score to secure a 25-16 win in the set to keep the match alive.
"At times, I get nervous when (we) get that blowout win," Gawlik said. "It can fragment the focus of the group, 'We're gonna win. Don't you know we just kicked their butt in set two?' Really good teams are able to separate sets and push back."
A tight battle in the fourth set saw the teams saw eight ties — the final at 12-12. From there, the Chippewas found the proverbial gas pedal to turn their third lead of the set into winning the set, 25-21 and the match 3-1.
As a team, the Chippewas hit .204 Friday, breaking a streak of hitting higher than .250 in the previous three matches — all Chippewa wins.
CMU also had 78 digs, 47 assists, 10 blocks six aces as a team.
Akron hit .097 and added 71 digs, 37 assists, eight blocks and four aces.
Senior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez and junior outside hitter Sierra Gray both registered 11 kills. Rosario-Martinez added four aces.
Thompson led the way with 24 digs and 14 kills. In terms of the opportunity to sweep a weekend, Thompson said she relishes that chance.
"It's rewarding when you can beat a team 2-0 on the weekend," Thompson said. "I love the fight you're able to play the same team again and prove that you're not gonna come in here and take a match from us.
"We didn't come in to beat them once, we came in to beat them twice."
The Chippewas host Bowling Green at 4 p.m. Thursday and 12 p.m. Friday. The Chippewas and Falcons split two meetings in 2019 — including a 3-1 BGSU win in the MAC Tournament semifinal.
Western Michigan 7-3
Central Michigan 7-5
Ball State 5-5
Northern Illinois 5-6
Eastern Michigan 3-5
Bowling Green 10-0
Kent State 8-2