Volleyball rolls in 3-1 victory over Buffalo

Minnesota junior Anna Erickson, left, and Dominican Republic senior Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez, right, jump up to block the ball during a game against Akron on Friday, Oct. 29 in McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas beat the Zips 3-1.

Looking to continue its momentum at McGuirk Arena, Central Michigan volleyball defeated Buffalo 3-1 Saturday.

The Chippewas improve to 11-14 on the year and 5-8 in the Mid-American Conference. Buffalo falls to 11-14 and 4-9 in conference play.

“I thought the first set was pretty lights out,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “I thought the second set for both sides was pretty sloppy, but we were fortunate to go up 2-0. We felt like we went kind of stale offensively and defensively in the third set. We dipped into our bench a little bit and I feel like the people who came in were ready to go.”

Before the opening serve, CMU presented senior setter Grace Butler with a game ball following her entrance into the 3,000 assist club on Friday.

How it happened

Although the teams battled early in the first set, the Chippewas began to overwhelm Buffalo behind the offensive output of senior outside hitter Sierra Gray. CMU took a 12-7 lead, forcing a Bulls timeout. After the break, Buffalo found its way offensively, recording four of six points and cutting the Chippewas' advantage to three. The Bulls tried to fend off the onslaught, but Gray buried her seventh kill and secured the win, 25-17.

Buffalo brought the heat in the second and established an early 5-3 advantage. After tying the set at six,  the Chippewas pulled away. Late in the set, the Bulls strung together a four-point run to bring the score to 23-20. Senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson stepped up and shut the door in set two for a 25-20 CMU win and a 2-0 match lead.

Buffalo rebounded in the third. With the Bulls up 13-9, senior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez connected with a ball that found the floor and caused the CMU bench to erupt. The Bulls did not flinch as their lead grew to seven, forcing Gawlik to call a timeout. Gray and Thompson responded, but it was too late as the Bulls stole set three 25-20.

After an early battle, Buffalo took a 13-11 lead in the fourth set, forcing the Chippewas to call another timeout. CMU exited the break on a mission and quickly turned the tables on the Bulls. 

With the Chippewas rolling, Buffalo scrambled to maintain its momentum. However, a timely block from freshman outside hitter Krystina Kasson ultimately stopped the Bulls in their tracks. Buffalo tried to rally, but CMU senior middle blocker Megan Sivertsen found the floor, locking up the match.

Key Performers

Gray was everywhere for CMU on Saturday, finishing with 15 kills and 14 digs. Thompson finished close behind with 14 kills and 11 digs.

Junior outside hitter Anna Erickson tacked on 13 kills while maintaining a .429 hitting percentage.

“We needed to turn this weekend around, get a couple wins at home, and we did that," Erickson said. "So I’m super proud of the team.”

Butler paced the Chippewas offense with 25 assists. Sophomore setter Kamryn Olson added 23 assists.

Key Stats

CMU recorded eight service aces in the match, compared to one for the Bulls. 

Buffalo recorded 13 fewer attack errors than the Chippewas.

What’s Next

The Chippewas travel to Muncie, Indiana, to face Ball State at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4.