Volleyball holds on to beat Toledo

Kentucky senior Sierra Gray jumps to hit the ball during a game against Akron on Friday, Oct. 29 in McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas beat the Zips 3-1.

Backed into a corner, Central Michigan volleyball relied on depth and offensive firepower to rocket past Toledo on Friday, winning 3-1 in McGuirk Arena.

The Chippewas improve to 12-16 on the season and 6-10 in the Mid-American Conference. Toledo falls to 18-10 and 9-7 in conference play.

“We laid an egg in the second set,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “You gotta start over in set three, and I thought that is kind of what happened there. You just got to move on. I thought we did a real mature job of resetting.”

During the match, senior setter Grace Butler placed herself atop the all-time sets played list with 454.

How it happened

The Chippewas opened the first set on fire en route to a five-point lead at the midway mark. Senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson connected with a thunderous swing to give CMU a 16-10 advantage. Down big, Toledo began to put pressure on the Chippewas. 

With set-point nearing, the Rockets strung together a five-point run. However, CMU weathered the storm to secure set one 25-23.

 After taking an 8-0 lead, the Rockets kept their foot on the gas and pushed the advantage to 10 to start set two. Junior outside hitter Anna Erickson made her presence felt, sparking a CMU rally. Once the Chippewas got rolling, Thompson found her stride to bury two late kills. Toledo managed to survive the momentum shift and tied the match 1-1.

Although Toledo started the third fast, CMU found its footing with the help of senior outside hitter Sierra Gray. After Thompson added her 10th kill of the match, Gray buried a shot between the Rockets' defense, giving the Chippewas a 16-14 lead. Toledo fought back and took a three-point advantage late. However, CMU took control of the net and leaned on Gray offensively to seal the stanza 25-23.

The Chippewas took advantage of offensive mistakes from Toledo to pull ahead early in set four. Gray kept the momentum going with back-to-back kills to push the Chippewa lead to five. The Rockets tried to keep pace, however out of timeouts, Thompson stepped up to shut the door. The Chippewas secured a 3-1 match victory with a 25-14 win in the fourth set.

Key Performers

Thompson led the way for CMU, finishing with 14 kills and 16 digs. Gray played two sets and added 12 kills.

Butler paced the Chippewa offense with 25 assists, in addition to 17 digs.

Freshman libero Aly Gurtiza led the way defensively with 25 digs.

Key Stats

Toledo recorded seven service aces to the Chippewas two.

What’s Next

The Chippewas face Toledo on Saturday, at 4 p.m. in McGuirk Arena.