CMU volleyball drops first rivalry match at Western Michigan 3-1
Alyssa Griner stepped off the sideline and onto the court in Read Fieldhouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan for her second career college volleyball match.
On the first serve of her college career on Feb. 5 against Northern Illinois, the freshman outside hitter fired an ace onto the West side of the court McGuirk Arena.
As CMU was well underway into battle against rival Western Michigan, Griner prepared her serve. She launched it over the net into the forearms of her opponent, who failed to keep the ball in control, adding a second ace to Griner's season stats.
Little did she know that after a celebration with her team, she would step back into that same spot and do it again.
Although Griner's aces provided CMU (3-4) with the lead it needed to take the third set of the match over Western Michigan (5-2) at Read Fieldhouse, the Chippewas could not make up for the two set deficit they were given prior and lost 3-1 after four sets.
Head coach Mike Gawlik said that Griner's float serves definitely provide a challenge for anyone on the receiving end, and is proud of her ability to step up and onto the court at any time.
"Alyssa's got a really challenging serve that moves a lot, it's kind of like a knuckle ball," Gawlik said. "It becomes difficult to pass on the other side and so she creates opportunity to compromise Western's attack with the quality of serve she puts into play. If we can eliminate their attackers because of their first ball quality, we're a lot better defensively."
Despite struggling in opportunity when it came to attacking, Gawlik was still happy with some of the great plays and opportunities his team allowed themselves throughout the match.
"One of the things that got us into trouble in sets one and two was the first contact that made our second contact," Gawlik said. "Our setters had to only set the one player that was left instead of making decisions, you become very one-dimensional when that's the case."
CMU found its footing quickly over WMU and threw in some early points, but stumbled and found struggle in defense and errors, which would allow the Broncos to take the first set 25-21. CMU totaled nine errors in the first set, which provided some struggles despite maintaining a tight score.
Looking to tie the match in the second set, CMU was able to tighten up the score early, exchanging leads with the Broncos. Three service aces in a row allowed WMU to run with the lead and not look back, and went on to take the second set 25-18 over the Chippewas.
Despite having a strong showing from a number of players offensively for CMU, the team found its struggles in getting past WMU's defenses as well as digging up what the Broncos were sending over the net.
In hopes to stay in the game in a 2 set deficit, CMU had to find a way through WMU's defenses, which found a way to return many of the swings that the Chippewas sent over.
CMU found itself in a 6 point deficit in the beginning of the third set at 4-11, but found an attack rhythm that allowed point after point for the Chippewas. WMU and CMU exchange leads throughout the set, Griner's pair of aces gave the Chippewas the lead they needed to push through and win the third set 25-21.
After finding a groove, CMU was working to keep itself alive in the rivalry match. With a way through WMU's defense, the Chippewas were able to throw down more points and keep the score evenly matched. Despite a strong effort and many exchanged leads, WMU managed to overtake CMU in the end and win the match with a fourth set score of 25-22.
Junior outside hitter Savannah Thompson and sophomore outside hitter Anna Erickson tied the lead in kills for the Chippewas with 12 each.
Junior middle blocker Megan Sivertsen followed with nine.
Freshman setter Kamryn Olson led in assists with 24.
Olson and Griner each had two service aces.
The Chippewas will return to Read Fieldhouse on Friday at 2 p.m. to continue their series against Western Michigan.