CMU volleyball sweeps Akron, extends win streak to four
Central Michigan volleyball came into Friday riding a streak of three-consecutive sweeps.
The Chippewas took that momentum and rolled to a fourth-straight sweep beating Akron 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-22) in Rhodes Arena.
The Chippewas move to 15-8 overall and 8-5 in the Mid-American Conference.
Senior outside hitter Mallory Hernandez ended with 10 kills and three blocks. It was her fourth-straight game with double-digit kills.
“When Mallory's playing well, not only does she produce points, but she creates opportunity for other people,” Gawlik said. “... Four matches in a row with double-digit kills. And I think when you start looking at what our record is, over those four matches, and what our set record is of those four matches, it doesn't come as a surprise that we won four matches with sweeps. She's a big part of it because of what she opens up for other people.”
Freshman outside hitter Natalia Rejment led the Chippewas in kills with 11. While senior outside hitter Anna Erickson put up nine kills from the left side while adding five digs and an ace.
“I think those left sides get 20 kills in three sets,” Gawlik said. “And balancing out what Mallory brings to the table, they all kind of shared the load… And in some ways you protect each other because nobody is the one person they have to defend, they have to defend all three of them.”
Middle blockers Elly Medendorp and Maddie Whitfield led the way with five blocks each. Whitfield added six kills while Medendorp recorded five kills.
“I think our defense starts at the net,” Gawlik said. “And I think that Maddie (Whitfield) and Elly (Medendorp) are two elite-level blockers… I think those two set the tone. And we did a really nice job tonight of being the aggressors at the net.”
After trailing to begin the first set, the Chippewas came alive, using a seven-point run to grab a 9-5 lead. Back-to-back blocks extended the CMU lead to 17-11. Whitfield sealed the 25-18 set win, with a kill. Rejment and Hernandez each ended set one with five kills.
Trailing 1-0 in the match, the Zips jumped out to a 5-1 lead to begin set two. Down by eight, the Chippewas found some life and tied things at 18 off a 9-1. Following an Akron timeout, the Zips retook their lead on a three-point run. However, the Chippewas shot right back with a four-point run grabbing their first lead of the set, 23-22. A block by Hernandez and Whitfield completed the comeback for CMU as it took set two 25-23.
“I thought the group did a really nice job to just say we got to stop looking at the scoreboard and just play one rally at a time,” Gawlik said. “It's just little things like that, recognizing our passing isn't going really well right now, but we have a lot of other ways we can help score points…
" So I think instead of freaking out, we stayed real calm, and then as we got closer and closer, we said we're gonna win this set. We're not going to start being like, okay, let's just get momentum for the next one, and I think as you kind of go on that… run people start believing that and so (we) just kind of got our swag back at that moment.”
Tied at 14 in the third set, Medendorp jump-started a three-point run for the Chippewas as they pulled ahead 17-14. After trading points throughout the third set, CMU earned back-to-back points to win the third set, 25-22.
The Chippewas head to Buffalo, New York to face off against Buffalo on Saturday at 4 p.m.