Volleyball struggles early, takes final three sets for weekend sweep at Toledo
Senior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez stepped behind the baseline and took a breath before serving.
In a tight fifth set tied at seven, her teammates needed to find a way to take a lead.
Rosario-Martinez served the next eight points, all of which the Chippewas scored on to take a five-set victory over Toledo in Savage Arena.
Coming off a 3-1 victory against Toledo (3-10) in Savage Arena on March 12, the Chippewas found some problems holding off the Rockets and providing their own offense and dropped the first two sets. CMU (9-7) fought its way back in and refused to back down to earn the weekend sweep.
Head coach Mike Gawlik said that the service pressure his team brought to the table was a strong factor in their turnaround that allowed the reserve sweep; CMU amounted eight service aces with only two service errors, a step up from the previous night's match.
"We wanted to fight all the way through, whatever the end was," Gawlik said. "Halfway through set three we were down 13-7 and down two sets to zero ... it doesn't look very good, so in our huddle we said, 'We have a choice to make. Are we going to cash it in, or are we going to keep fighting?'"
"I said that what defines who we are is how we fight when things don't look good, ... and we found a way to claw back into that one and after we won the third set when we weren't really playing our best, we felt like they made a mistake by letting us back into the match."
The Chippewas found their struggles immediately against Toledo, several attack errors sent the Rockets on a scoring run. CMU found points to break the rhythm, but could not go on more than a two-point streak to turn the tables and lost the set 25-13.
CMU and Toledo entered the second set with points traded by errors, and the Chippewas were able to go on a few scoring streaks early in the set to pull away. Toledo found its rhythm again and was able to shut down CMU's offense, taking a large scoring run in the end of the set to secure the 2-0 set lead, the Rockets winning 25-20.
Needing to take a set to stay in the match, the Chippewas snapped their funk. Both CMU and Toledo took scoring runs in the third set, but CMU capitalized on taking fewer errors and won its first set 25-20.
With Toledo off guard, the Chippewas opened the fourth set with a fire under their feet and went on a strong scoring run, amassing as much as a 12-point lead at 20-8.
The Rockets had no plans to go down without a fight and broke CMU's rhythm hard, taking 11 of the 14 final points of the set and forcing the Chippewas into a set point timeout at 24-21. The Chippewas were able to break the funk and obtain the final point needed to stay alive, winning 25-22.
CMU could not afford to allow another long Toledo scoring run, either team only needing 15 points to take the match. With all hands on deck, both the Chippewas and the Rockets fought hard and exchanged leads early in the fifth set. After tying up at the seven-point mark, CMU forced Toledo into both time-outs and took the next eight points to finish the series with a 15-7 victory.
Junior outside hitter Savannah Thompson had a strong match all-around, picking up 19 kills, 11 digs, two assists and two aces.
Senior setter Grace Butler led in assists with 24.
Freshman setter Kamryn Olson contributed 19 assists, one kill, 16 digs and two aces for CMU.
Junior middle blocker Megan Sivertsen led the Chippewas in blocks with seven and claimed four kills.
Junior libero Kendall Braate led in digs with 25, adding four assists and two aces to her stats.
The Chippewas will return home on March 16 at 6 p.m. to take on Eastern Michigan (6-8) in McGuirk Arena.