CMU volleyball rallies to beat WMU


Outside hitter Mallory Hernandez and middle blocker Elly Mendendorp go for a block Friday, Nov. 11, in McGuirk Arena.

CMU volleyball rallies to beat WMUWith Mid-American Conference tournament seeding on the line, Central Michigan volleyball found itself down 2-0 against Western Michigan. 

However, fueled by a Chippewa-friendly crowd equipped with white ‘Max out McGuirk’ towels, the Chippewas secured a 3-2 win (16-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-11) on Friday.

“I love big crowds,” said junior middle blocker Elly Medendorp. “Makes you a little bit nervous, puts a little tingle in your tummy. But I mean, you feed off of like what's going on around you. I loved the towels, that was sick. And I loved just the community of Central coming together and supporting not only volleyball but a women's team. And I thought we did a pretty good job today.”

CMU improved to 17-10 overall and 10-5 in conference play.

“We just really went into this match saying we wanted to play our way and our style,” Gawlik said. “And we'll sacrifice the outcome or surrender the outcome if we play our style of volleyball. And I thought outside of set one, I thought we really did a good job of that tonight.”

After ending the first set with a negative hitting percentage, senior outside hitter Mallory Hernandez led the Chippewas with 25 kills while hitting .408.

“I think I was just I was nervous at the beginning of the game because it's a rival game,” Hernandez said. “It's a big game but I think just working through it and having confidence that Claire (Ammeraal) was gonna give me a good set every time. So I wasn't scared to be aggressive in the second set. And I think I knew someone had to change the momentum in the game and I was just trying my best to do that.”

Freshman setter Claire Ammeraal recorded her third triple-double of the season. She led CMU in assists with 45 while adding 10 kills and 13 digs. 

The Broncos started the game with energy and overwhelmed CMU in set one, as they secured a 25-16 win. 

The Chippewas began rallying in the second set, as Hernandez found her swing. Holding an 11-8 lead, senior middle blocker Maddie Whitfield and Hernandez blocked a shot that sent McGuirk into a frenzy. However, WMU battled back to take a 2-0 lead with a 25-21 set win. 

With Whitfield battling a finger injury, Medendorp and Ammeraal took control of the net as the CMU lead grew in set three. As the crowd continued to drive the Chippewas, Hernandez let it fly adding seven kills in the set, to secure a 25-21 set win.

CMU kept the momentum rolling in the fourth, jumping out to a 20-13 lead off a fancy finish from Ammeraal. However, the Broncos weren’t going to give up easily and they battled back to cut the lead to five, forcing a timeout from Gawlik. After words of encouragement, the Chippewas tied the match at two, as Ammeraal found the floor to give them a 25-20 set-four win. 

Once again, CMU took an early lead in the fifth set, but WMU kept the pressure on and tied things at 10. But just as it seemed, the Broncos were flipping the momentum, freshman outside hitter Natalia Rejment ended the game with a kill that bounced off the face of a WMU player to give CMU the 3-2 match win. 

Rejment ended the day with nine kills and 13 digs. Sophomore libero Aly Gurtiza led the Chippewas with 29 digs.

CMU welcomes the Broncos back to McGuirk Arena on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“I feel like it was stressed today just play like as a family, work hard for each other and I think that's the same message going into tomorrow," Gurtiza said. "Just play for each other and play your hardest and the rest will come."