CMU volleyball bring the heat, snap losing streak 3-2 against Northern Illinois
Anna Erickson slammed down her 17th kill of the night and rushed to her teammates in excitement, who greeted her with smiles and cheers.
Only in the third set, the sophomore outside hitter had been on a roll all match with no plans to stop anytime soon. She ended CMU's match against Northern Illinois with 25 kills across five sets in her first starting game of her career.
After five intense sets, CMU's volleyball team (2-3) snapped its three-match losing streak with a 3-2 win against Northern Illinois (1-4) Thursday night inside McGuirk Arena.
The energy was entirely different compared to last week's losing weekend sweep against Kent State, and the Chippewas found themselves back in their groove.
"I was just thinking about being more terminal," Erickson said. "That's what our whole offensive goal was for the team."
Erickson added that the team had put more time into practicing offensively after their performance last week against Kent State, where CMU lost both games.
Head coach Mike Gawlik said he was proud of how cohesively the team played against the Huskies.
"I felt like we played together," Gawlik said. "I felt like we played for each other, I felt like we played more connected."
Gawlik praised his team for persevering despite unforeseen circumstances. He pushes all of his players to practice like they could start any match, as well as maintaining strong cohesion no matter who is in the lineup.
"We really worked on those relationships all week and really kind of ironed out some of that hesitation that maybe we had a week ago," Gawlik said. "I felt like today we played a lot better team volleyball."
After dropping the first set 25-22, CMU looked for redemption in the second set and found it, opening strong and running with the lead with help from a powerful offense and minimal service errors. While the Huskies found some cracks in CMU's defense and brought the score close, the Chippewas kept their offense strong and went on to win the set 25-21.
While at a 1-1 set score, the stakes were high as both teams kept things neck-and-neck until the 10-point mark in set three. Once again, CMU's offense was too much for the Huskies and it was able to pull away, amassing as many as a seven-point lead in the middle of the set. NIU closed the gap a little, but was not enough and CMU took the third set 25-19.
CMU opened the fourth set with a 5-0 lead, continuing to capitalize on powerful offense. Similar to previous sets, the Huskies responded and kept the score tight, forcing CMU to take its second time-out of the set at 9-9. The score stayed close throughout the set, both teams exchanging one-point leads frequently until the end. CMU was unable to secure the match win in the fourth set, giving the Huskies the 26-24 set win and tying the match at 2-2.
The same pattern of close scores repeated into the tiebreaker set, but CMU was able to pull away towards the end, finishing the match 15-11 in a 3-2 win.
Erickson led the Chippewa offensive with 25 kills.
Junior outside hitter Savannah Thompson followed with 15.
Thompson and freshman setter Kamryn Olson each had two aces, while Grace Butler had one.
Senior defensive specialist Hannah Warners filled in as libero for Kendall Braate, who did not play for an undisclosed reason. Warners had 31 digs for her first match of the season.
The Chippewas (2-3) will look to even out their record as they play NIU again at 2 p.m. Friday in McGuirk Arena.