Volleyball splits pair of road matches

The Chippewas volleyball team fell to Miami 3-2 March 27 in McGuirk Arena.

In what was a grueling start to the Dayton/Wright State Invitational, Central Michigan volleyball ended the day 1-1, winning against Illinois State and losing to Wright State on Friday.

The Chippewas are 5-3 on the season.

“I don’t think we played our best this morning,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “I think Wright State’s really good, but I don’t know that they saw the best of CMU volleyball this morning.”

Match One

After scoring the first point of the set, the Chippewas found themselves playing catch-up as Wright State took an early 4-1 lead. CMU quickly responded knotting the first set up at four. The heated nature of the back-and-forth battle continued until, with the score tied at 12, the Raiders made their move. 

Rattling off five straight points, Wright State took their first substantial lead of the day. The Chippewas tried to mount a comeback, but the Raider offense never slowed down, winning the first set 25-17.

The Raiders' offense stayed in sync to open the second set with a 6-0 advantage. CMU responded with two quick points. However, after immediately pushing the lead back to six Wright State continued to apply pressure on the Chippewas. Ultimately, the constant pressure held up, and the Raiders took set two 25-15.

Set three started in the Chippewas favor, as they established their largest lead of the match. Down 4-1, Wright State responded with four consecutive points to retake the lead. CMU tied things up at five, but once again the Raiders went on an extended run. 

Behind by six the Chippewas slowly began to chip away at Wright State’s lead. CMU drew within two of the Raiders with set-point nearing, but couldn’t get any closer as Wright State secured the third set, 25-20.

Match Two

Fired up from the earlier loss, the Chippewas turned to senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson against ISU. She responded with three quick kills as CMU went up 5-2. 

The Redbirds answered with a four-point run to take their first lead of the match. As the set progressed, the teams traded substantial runs, but neither team could hold onto their advantage. 

The Chippewas retook the lead following back-to-back points. But facing match-point, the offense stalled out and the Redbirds capitalized. ISU scored three straight points to win the first set 28-26.

The heated battle from the first continued into the second set with the Redbirds taking a 4-3 lead. CMU responded with an eight-point run with senior outside hitter Sierra Gray found her swing. ISU attempted to cut into the lead but with senior setter Grace Butler setting the table for CMU’s dominant offensive unit, the Chippewas marched to a 25-18 victory tying the match at 1.

CMU stayed aggressive in the third set as they took a 6-2 lead. ISU managed to stick close with the Chippewas, eventually tying the set up at 12. The Redbirds couldn’t keep up with the pace CMU was setting, ultimately falling behind. Once the Chippewas saw weakness from ISU, they pounced scoring seven consecutive points to win the third set 25-16.

After trading the lead for most of the fourth set, the Chippewas found themselves battling ISU for every point. However, with a fifth set looming, Butler found freshman outside hitter Linnea Willer to tie things up at 24. Butler then set Thompson up for back-to-back kills to secure the fourth set 26-24.

Key Performers

Gray led the Chippewas with 21 total kills on the day. 

Butler recorded 43 assists between the two matches for CMU.

Freshman libero Aly Gurtiza paced the Chippewas in digs with 25.

What’s Next

CMU plays their final match of the invitational against Dayton on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. The match will air on ESPN+.