Volleyball loses to Ball State in four sets

Wisconsin freshman Linnea Willer jumps to hit the ball during a game against Akron on Friday, Oct. 29 in McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas beat the Zips 3-1.

Facing the top team in the Mid-American Conference, Central Michigan volleyball held tough against Ball State on Thursday, losing 3-1 in Muncie, Indiana.

The Chippewas fall to 11-15 on the year and 5-9 in the MAC. Ball State improves to 23-3 and 13-1 in conference play.

“I think we all felt like we played a good-enough match tonight to be in contention,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “I think if anything we proved to ourselves we can play with these guys. I think our good is good enough to play right with them and tomorrow is a new day.”

How it happened

The Chippewas scored the first point of the opening set, but a Ball State 9-2 run forced a CMU timeout. A double-touch call cut the Cardinals' lead to five as the momentum began to shift. Looking to make her mark, senior outside hitter Savannah Thompson came up with an impactful block. CMU continued to battle and cut the score to 20-18. The Cardinals ultimately won the opening stanza 25-21.

Ball State continued their attack to set two. After a 7-7 tie, the lead changed hands as the Chippewas found their legs offensively. Down 20-16, CMU called a timeout that would ignite a run and cut the lead to two when freshman outside hitter Linnea Willer sent the ball to the deck with a thunderous swing. The Cardinals withstood the onslaught to win their 14th-consecutive set 25-20.

After a grueling early battle, both teams found themselves locked at 10 to start the third. CMU began attacking the net with a purpose, sparking a five-point run. Ball State tried to keep pace following the 15-point break, but Thompson’s seventh kill in the set helped the Chippewas maintain the advantage. The Cardinals made it interesting late, but CMU took set three 25-21.

The Cardinals entered the fourth set on a mission, establishing a 12-4 lead. Ball State’s momentum propelled them through the 15-point mark first, but then the Chippewas’ offense came to life. Following an assisted block, Thompson found the floor with a kill to force a Ball State timeout. 

Following the break, the Cardinals quickly recorded a point to push their lead back to six. However, CMU put together a five-point run and cut the lead to one. With a 20-17 score, it appeared Ball State had secured a point on a long rally. After freshman libero Aly Gurtiza's kill was overturned after video review Ball State secured the fourth set and won its 13th consecutive match.

Key Performers

Thompson led the way for CMU, finishing with 14 kills, 16 digs and four total blocks. Junior outside hitter Anna Erickson added 13 kills while maintaining a .303 hitting percentage.

Senior setter Grace Butler paced the Chippewa offense with 26 assists. Senior setter Kendall Braate tacked on 19 assists.

Defensively, Gurtiza was everywhere for CMU, earning a team-high 19 digs.

Key Stats

The Chippewas finished with 21 attack errors. The Cardinals finished with 17.

What’s Next

The Chippewas wrap up their final road trip of the season against the Cardinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday.