Volleyball drops five-set thriller to Ohio

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

Although they pushed Ohio to the limit, Central Michigan volleyball suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 loss in Athens on Saturday.

The Chippewas fall to 8-10 on the season, while the Bobcats improve to 2-15. Both teams are 2-4 in the Mid-American Conference.

“We did some nice things at times,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “I like our bounce back in set four, I thought we had a different (level of) aggression. For the first half of set five, I thought we were doing some nice things, then a challenge didn’t go our way. From that point on, I felt like they capture the momentum.”

How it happened

The Chippewas jumped out to an early lead in the first set, but they couldn’t shake Ohio. After tying things at 10, the Bobcats began to pull away from CMU, stretching the lead to six. A big swing from senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson brought the Chippewas within three of Ohio, but the Bobcats’ offense was in sync and rolled to a 25-19 victory in set one.

CMU ratcheted up the intensity in the second stanza and found themselves with an early lead. Freshman outside hitter Linnea Willer continued to exploit holes in the Bobcats’ defense as she buried her third kill of the set, putting the Chippewas up 15-9. Ohio managed to cut the lead to three, but following a timeout, CMU put the hammer down and locked up the second set 25-19.

Ohio brought the heat in the third set, establishing an early 12-7 lead. Backed into a corner, the Chippewas began to whittle away at the Bobcats' advantage. A service ace from freshman libero Aly Gurtiza drew CMU within one, which junior outside hitter Anna Erickson followed with a kill to tie it at 15. The lead would change hands five times in the final 10 points, as Ohio held on to win set three 25-22.

Looking to force a fifth set, CMU opened the fourth with ferocity. Although it was a close battle early, the Chippewas overtook Ohio and poured it on. Willer buried a shot between the Bobcats’ defense, pushing CMU’s lead to seven. 

But, Ohio wasn’t going down without a fight. The Bobcats managed to trim the lead to one, forcing a CMU timeout. With Ohio threatening, Thompson closed the door, helping the Chippewas secure set four 25-23.

With MAC positioning on the line, the Chippewas opened the fifth set with a slim lead. After the Bobcats tied the score at five, both teams tried to find an edge. Senior defensive specialist Hannah Warners gave the Chippewas a two-point lead off of a service ace. However, following a questionable call reversal, Ohio used the energy of its home crowd to propel them past CMU, to lock set five up 15-10. 

Key Performers

Willer set the pace for CMU’s offense finishing with 16 kills while carrying a .481 hitting percentage. Thompson and Rosario-Martinez each added 10 kills.

Senior setter Grace Butler led the Chippewas in assists with 28.

 Gurtiza continued to shine on defense for CMU, finishing with 22 digs. Thompson added 21 digs.

Key Stats

Ohio finished with 14 total blocks, seven more than CMU.

What’s Next

The Chippewas return to McGuirk Arena on Thursday, Oct. 14, where they’ll face Bowling Green at 6 p.m.