CMU volleyball leaves Green Bay 1-2 at the Capital One Credit Union Classic

Junior opposite/outside hitter Krystina Kasson blocks the ball during a match against Albany on Friday, September 1 in McGuirk Arena. Kasson was the player of the game with eight kills and two blocks.

Central Michigan volleyball traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin over the weekend to take on Saint Thomas, Green Bay and South Dakota at the Capital Credit Union Classic. 

Dropping match one to Saint Thomas (15-25, 19-25, 24-26), CMU came back on Friday to sweep host Green Bay (25-12, 27-25, 26-24), but fell short in match three to South Dakota (14-25, 22-25, 23-25). 

“We talked a lot about consistency,” head coach Mike Gawlik said. “... we’ve had some people throughout the first four matches have some lights-out performances, and then at other times we’re falling a little flat. I think that’s the goal for us, how do we steady out that our ... off days are still pretty good days.”  

The Chippewas move to 6-6 on the season as they head into Mid-American Conference play on Thursday at Ball State. 

“We lost to them in the Semi-finals,” Gawlik said, “But we beat them two matches in our building, and they beat us two matches in the tournament. We know they’re really good … we know that’s a challenge we are willing to accept.”

Game 1

CMU opened night one getting swept by Saint Thomas in three sets. 

Despite the Chippewas taking an early 3-1 lead in set one, the Tommies quickly came back with a 9-2 run which CMU couldn’t recover from allowing Saint Thomas to secure the first set with a final score of 23-15. 

Once again in set two, the Chippewas came out with an early lead with a score of 10-7 following three lead changes. The back-and-forth didn’t stop the Tommies as they went on a 13-3 run aided by three kills from freshman Ellie Gustafsson to put CMU down 2-0 with a final score of 25-19. 

In all or nothing, the Chippewas came out strong once again leading Saint Thomas with a score of 10-5 followed up by a six-point run to extend their lead to 18-16. With their backs against the wall, CMU kept the Tommies in a back-and-forth battle until an error from the Chippewas led to an ace followed by a kill to seal the deal for Saint Thomas winning match one, 26-24. 

CMU junior Krystina Kasson continued her lights-out performance from last weekend leading CMU with 11 kills and a .360 hitting percentage. 

“She’s a big part of our offense,” said Gawlik. “She’s such a big attacker and she played pretty well."

Game 2

Coming off a sweep by Saint Thomas, CMU quickly turned around on Friday to sweep hosting team Green Bay. 

“I thought we played flat on Thursday and challenged our athletes to come back really strong against Green Bay,” Gawlik said. “That’s it. We’re going to win a lot of matches on the horizon and were pretty proud of that.”

As Green Bay struggled to find their footing early on, Kasson and CMU capitalized as Kasson finished the set with six kills and a .556 hitting percentage aided by sophomore setter Claire Ammeraal’s 13 assists coming out with a dominating 25-12 win. 

Green Bay opened set two with an eight-point run leaving CMU in a 15-11 deficit, but the Chippewas refused to give up scoring six straight points to take a one-point lead. Yet again, the two teams battled back and forth tying the game at 25. Finally, back-to-back kills from Kasson and senior defensive specialist Kayla Brandon ended the game with a final score of 27-25. 

Green Bay continued to challenge the Chippewas in the third set putting them down by eight with a score of 20-12. CMU managed to dig themselves out of a hole scoring the next 14 of 18 points to complete the sweep with a final score of 27-25 aided by kills from Kasson, Lauren Schrock and Brooklyn Conner. 

“Our depth is a strength,” said Gawlik. “We don’t hesitate to make changes in our lineup if people are not finding the success that we feel like they need to have. We have people on the bench who can come up and contribute and for Brooklyn that was her role ... when you have that kind of ability to make a change and find a spark, you want to take advantage of that.”

Game 3

Taking on South Dakota in the final match of the Capital One Credit Union Classic, the Chippewas looked to come out of the weekend even, but an inability to stay consistent led them to fall 3-0. 

Breaking the back-and-forth battle that started match one, South Dakota went on a 6-0 run to take a seven-point lead that the Chippewas wouldn’t recover from. Despite back-to-back errors from South Dakota, CMU was unable to find its footing allowing the Coyotes to finish off the set with a 9-4 run to make the final score 25-14. 

Despite a strong offensive Presence from Ammeraal and Schrock in the second set, the Coyotes were able to pull within two as the Chippewas found themselves struggling with errors. Back-to-back kills from Abby Olin gave the Chippewas their momentum back putting them up ahead with a score of 15-11. But an 11-6 run from South Dakota gave the Coyotes their first lead of the game lifting them to a 25-22 win. 

With the match on the line, the teams took part in a back-and-forth battle until the Coyotes went on a 5-0 run to take a four-point lead with a score of 13-9. The Chippewas were quick to come back with a 7-3 run to cut the lead to two, but it wasn’t enough as CMU struggled with errors allowing the Coyotes to secure the match with a final score of 25-23. 

The Chippewas had a total of 18 errors on the day, five of those coming in the final match of the day.