Volleyball drops five-setter at Ball State

The Chippewas volleyball team fell to Eastern Michigan 3-2 Mar. 16 in Mcguirk Arena.

At a crucial point that would define the outcome of an evenly-fought match between CMU and Ball State, Survivor's “Eye of the Tiger” blasted through Worthen Arena. 

At a match score of 2-1 in the Cardinals' favor, the Chippewas had a hold on a 24-23 set point that would keep them in the match for a fifth set. 

The melody faded, and a hush fell over the almost-empty arena. The ball moved into play, and was quickly slammed down by junior outside hitter Savannah Thompson, keeping the Chippewas in for a chance at victory.

Although the fourth set went in the favor of the Chippewas, CMU (9-9) could not come out on top in the fifth set over Ball State (8-9) and lost 3-2 in the weekend opener at Worthen Arena.

No matter what the outcome is, head coach Mike Gawlik said he knows his team will put up a fight until the end, which is exactly what they did in their five-set losses against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday and BSU on Friday.

"When you're playing on a road and can force a set five, and you start thinking anything can happen, and (Ball State) jumped out to a little bit quicker of a lead in set five than we would have liked," Gawlik said. "But we were just staying the course, we found a way to claw back into it and keep it within striking distance, but we just maybe lacked one or two plays that could have flipped that."

Gawlik noted that his team found struggle against Ball State's blocking pressure, which picked up in the final three sets, and hopes to turn up the defensive power for the Chippewas for Saturday's match.

Impact moments

CMU and Ball State opened the first set with back-and-forth rallies to tighten up the score quickly, but things quickly fell into the Chippewas' favor by going on a 10-1 run. After Ball State cut into the CMU lead, a kill from sophomore outside hitter Anna Erickson put the first set in the bag for CMU, winning 25-14.

The Cardinals shook off the first set immediately, opening the second set with a five-point scoring run before Erickson snapped the streak with a kill. CMU trailed slightly behind Ball State until the middle of the set, where the visitors trailed by as many as seven points at 11-18 in the Cardinals' favor. The Chippewas looked to bring it back, but fell short and lost the second set 25-17.

Both teams made strides in the third set, keeping a tight score throughout a majority of the set; Ball State pulled ahead slightly, forcing CMU into time-out to focus up and take a breath. The Chippewas pulled forward enough to tie up the score at set point and enter a deuce, but Ball State took the third set at 26-24 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

CMU and Ball State were neck-and-neck for the entirety of the fourth set and the Chippewas pulled away into the twenties. The Cardinals kept them on their toes, but an intense final play after a time-out kept CMU alive, 25-23, and moved into the fifth set.

In a crucial and intense fifth set, Ball State came aggressive early and pulled away, but the Chippewas had no plans to go down without a fight and trailed closely behind the Cardinals throughout the set, but couldn't overtake Ball State and lost the fifth set 15-11, losing the match 3-2.

Impact players

Thompson led the Chippewas with 17 kills, 14 digs, an assist, an ace and a block.

Senior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez totaled for 14 kills, a hitting percentage of .542, five blocks and an ace.

Senior setter Grace Butler led in assists with 32 and contributed an ace for the Chippewas.

Freshman setter Kamryn Olson had 22 assists and had three block assists.

Junior libero Kendall Braate led in digs with 19 as well as contributed a kill, eight assists and an ace.

Up next

CMU and Ball State will finish the weekend series at 1 p.m. Saturday in Worthen Arena.