CMU volleyball falls to Toledo

Senior outside hitter Anna Erickson celebrates with her teammates after they score a point Friday, Sep. 23, in McGuirk Arena.

Two teams, two 2-0 records, and first place on the line. The stakes were high as Central Michigan volleyball (9-5, 2-1) went on the road looking to protect its undefeated record in the Mid-American Conference against Toledo (10-4, 3-0) on Thursday. 

Despite winning set one, the Chippewas fell to the Rockets in 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20).  

“There were moments we were in striking distance and opening things up,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “but we kept keeping the door open for them (Toledo) to crawl back in. We’ve got to be a little more assertive with the style of play... It was very un-Central like volleyball for the way that we’ve been playing” 

Senior outside hitter Anna Erickson led all players in the game with 17 kills. Sophomore libero Aly Gurtiza led the Chippewas with 31 digs.

"(Gurtiza) did a really nice job of creating some momentum," Gawlik said. "We're going to need that kind of effort tomorrow and more contribution from more people. A phrase that we use in our gym a lot is we don't need everything from somebody but we need something from everybody."

Set one opened with the lead trading hands, but the Chippewas found their footing and took control with a five-point run to take a 20-13 lead. Gurtiza led the Chippewa defense as they shut down the Rockets and secured a 25-19 victory. 

“We executed (the) game plan pretty well in set one,” Gawlik said. “From start to finish in set one we had control.“ 

The Rockets took control of set two grabbing a seven-point lead, but the Chippewas put up a fight. CMU managed to climb back and cut the lead to two. Ultimately, the Chippewas rally fell short, as Toledo won the set 25-23 and tied the match at one. 

“We said between set one and two, we have to be ready for them to push back and fight their way out of the corner being down 0-1 in their home building," Gawlik said. "And they did just that. Toledo came out and served aggressive and put us back on our heels. And we were just on our heels the entire match after that.” 

Keeping the momentum on their side, the Rockets took a 9-4 lead in set three. Looking for a spark, senior middle blocker Maddie Whitfield helped spark a CMU comeback. After a timeout, the Chippewas put together a three-point run and cut Toledo's lead to two. But once again, the rally fell short as the Rockets secured a 25-19. 

With CMU backed into a corner and the Rockets hoping to end the night set four was a battle. The lead went back and forth during most of the match, but Toledo used a six-point run to grab the 3-1 match win. 

The Chippewas look to tie the season series against Toledo on Friday at 6 p.m.