CMU Volleyball beats Ball State in five-set showdown


Senior outside hitter Mallory Hernandez hits the ball during CMU's 3-2 win against Ball State Saturday, Sept. 24 in McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan volleyball wanted to prove that night one against Ball State wasn’t a fluke. And it did just that when it defeated the Cardinals 3-2 (23-25,12-25,25-20,25-22,19-17) in a five-sets on Saturday. 

“I feel like people underestimated us from the start so now they know what's going on in Mount Pleasant,” said senior outside hitter Anna Erickson.

Freshman setter Claire Ammeraal topped her impressive performance on night one with a triple-double on night two with 11 kills, 39 assists, and 15 digs. 

Senior middle blocker Maddie Whitfield continued her defensive effort with seven blocks and six kills. 

“Every time I go up I just intend to just destroy the block,” Whitfield said. “And I don't know, just (be) aggressive every time."

Erickson was dominant on the offensive end with 11 kills along with nine digs.

“I think for me, it's just that confidence that people are gonna back up behind me and cover me,” Erickson said. “So I'm just gonna go out swinging and my setters are gonna give me a good ball, so just the confidence and trust I have in my team.” 

After Ball State took a 12-8 lead, it extended its lead through a 6-1 run aided by back-to-back aces leading to a Chippewa timeout. Following the timeout, CMU cut into the Cardinal lead, but similar to day one, Ball State was able to take the first set, 25-23, to take the 1-0 lead in the match. 

Ball State continued their momentum into the second set, jumping out to a 12-5 lead. The Chippewas didn’t have an answer for the strong offensive effort, and the Cardinals took the second set, 25-12, to go up 2-0 on the Chippewas. 

“We lost the tight one, (and) we got the brakes blown off of us in set two,” Gawlik said. “I think that you're in the huddle there. And I just said that one of the things I wanted to make sure that we understood is that confidence is not something that can be taken from you, it's something that you have to freely give. And we're freely giving away our confidence because we're forgetting what we've done. And we're forgetting all the work that we've done.”

Looking to avoid the sweep, the Chippewas jumped out to a 7-2 lead in set three. However, Ball State compiled a few small runs to cut CMU’s lead to four, 20-16, outscoring the Chippewas 10-4. CMU was able to finish off the third set, 25-20, off of a kill from senior outside hitter Mallory Hernandez.

The Chippewas picked up right where they left off in set four. Ball State combated the good start from the Chippewas with a three-point run to get within one. But the Chippewas held strong as Rejment helped extend the lead to 21-18. The Cardinals went on a four-point run to get within one of the Chippewas. However, CMU wasn't phased as Whitfield recorded back-to-back points to force a fifth set and tie the match at two. 

In the winner take all set, CMU fell behind 11-8. The Chippewas rallied to force a Ball State timeout. The Cardinals rallied to take a 14-12 lead. Facing match point, tensions were high in McGuirk arena, as Rejment and Whitfield put the Chippewas in a position to win. Hernandez finished it off with a kill to take the match, 19-17. 

“I think obviously and like this (sets) when it's tight there's gonna be nerves just naturally,” Erickson said. “But during that timeout Mike (Gawlik) was like, let's be great in this great moment, and we just kind of stepped it up. We were like we're gonna go out swinging or defenders are gonna cover behind us if we make a mistake next ball.”

Rejment led the team in kills with 14 along with three aces that gave the Chippewas the momentum to start the fourth set. 

Hernandez ended the night with 12 kills and six blocks. 

“I think there's a difference in the mentality of somebody that's 18 and somebody that's 22,” Gawlik said. “Mallory (Hernandez) does a really nice job and she hasn't been perfect in every match we've played in but she just kind of stays in the moment and stays aggressive.”

The Chippewas will look to continue their success when the face Toledo on Thursday at 6 p.m.