Chippewas outlast EMU in five sets
Although they needed five sets to get it done, Central Michigan volleyball snapped its three-game losing streak in tremendous fashion against Eastern Michigan, winning 3-2 on Wednesday in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Chippewas improve to 9-12 on the year, while the Eagles fall to 8-12. Both teams are 3-6 in Mid-American Conference play.
“We made a push late in set four that I thought got the team to realize set five was going to go our direction,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “When we went in to set five, we certainly wanted to be the aggressors. We wanted to get our block and service pressure going and help create points for us. Whereas our block wasn’t maybe great in sets one through four, it came up big when it mattered most.
How it happened
Both teams battled for points early in the first set for an 8-8 tie. However, that’s when the Chippewas began to find their rhythm, as senior outside hitter Sierra Gray piled up the kills. The Eagles tried to halt the onslaught with a timeout, but the Chippewas kept the pressure on, rolling to a 25-18 set one victory.
CMU jumped out to a 13-6 lead early in the second when senior middle blocker Lisbeth Rosario-Martinez hammered a shot home for her fourth kill in the set. Down big, EMU started to work its way back. After tying the match at 17, the Eagles pulled away from CMU. Back-to-back kills from Rosario-Martinez brought the Chippewas within two of EMU, but the Eagles were too much as they locked up set two 25-20.
Following back-to-back kills from freshman outside hitter Linnea Willer, the Chippewas held a 10-4 lead to start the third stanza. EMU tried to fight back, eventually cutting the lead to two points. However, CMU wasn’t going down without a fight. Following a quiet second set, Gray overwhelmed the Eagles behind six kills set three to help CMU claim a 2-1 match lead.
After battling for early points, EMU quickly pulled ahead 9-5 in the fourth set. The Chippewas tried to keep pace, but the Eagles increased their advantage to six at the midway point. Following a timeout, CMU put together a four-point run to draw within two of EMU. But it wasn’t enough, as the Eagles scored five of the last six points to lock up the fourth set 25-19.
The Chippewas turned the tide of the match in the fifth set when junior outside hitter Anna Erickson earned two quick kills. She followed that up with a timely block later in the set, which propelled the CMU lead to eight. EMU had no answer for the Chippewas' offense, who continued to place shots en route to a 15-7 victory in the fifth.
Erickson and Gray finished tied for 13 kills on the night. Erickson did so while maintaining a .480 hitting percentage Rosario-Martinez finished close behind with 11 kills and a .588 hitting percentage.
Senior setter Grace Butler helped pace the Chippewas offense with 27 assists. Senior setter Kendall Braate finished with 26 assists.
With freshman libero Aly Gurtiza out due to injury, Gray led CMU in digs with 20. Senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson added 18 digs.
The Chippewas controlled the service line, finishing with seven aces compared to four for EMU.
The Chippewas continue their road trip when they head to Oxford, Ohio on Friday, Oct. 22, to face Miami.