Preview: CMU volleyball heads to Ball State for Mid-American Conference opener

CMU volleyball players huddle during a game against Bradley on Saturday, September 2 in McGuirk Arena.

Last season, Central Michigan volleyball traveled to Muncie, Indiana to compete in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. After beating Toledo in the first round, CMU was defeated by Ball State, ending its tournament run. 

Now returning to the same arena, the Chippewas look to get revenge against the Cardinals as they open MAC play against Ball State on Thursday and Friday, at 6 p.m.

“Obviously they beat us in the one at the end of the year,” head coach Mike Gawlik said. “And we’ve got to accept that challenge of opening up conference play with them again.” 

The Chippewas and the Cardinals have faced off 29 times in their history, with CMU coming out victorious only eight times. 

“We know that they’re really good over the last three years and really been in the top of the league,” Gawlik said. “And they’re somebody that you’ve got to go through if you want to get to the top yourself, so you know that’s a challenge that we’re willing to accept.” 

However, last season the Chippewas opened up MAC play finding success against Ball State, taking both matches against the Cardinals.  

CMU comes into the matchup following a losing weekend in Green Bay at the Capital One Credit Union Classic with losses to Saint Thomas and South Dakota. 

“I’m hoping that we’re in a good spot,” Gawlik said. “You always wish that you win the game going into conference play, but I’m hoping that it is something we can learn from and use as a springboard to go into play this week.”

Ball State comes into MAC play with a 3-8 record coming off a sweep at East Tennessee State over the weekend. 

The Chippewas are willing and ready to accept the challenge and know what it will take to defeat the Cardinals. 

“The one thing that (Ball State) do really well and have done really well within the last couple of years is really what I would call clean volleyball,” Gawlik said. “They don’t give you a ton of points, they defend well, they pass well, they make you play really well to beat them. And you know, I think if we can come out and play well and on operating cylinders and we share the load offensively I think we can be right there with those guys.”

To play well, CMU hopes to limit its errors after committing 50 over the weekend in Green Bay. 

“They’re going to make us play well,” Gawlik said. “And so that’s kind of our focus, how do we play as clean as we can so that were forcing them to have to earn points against us because we know they’re going to force us to do this stuff, so we want to limit our errors and freebies that we give away.” 

Central Michigan (6-6) at Ball State (3-8)

All-time series: Ball State 21-8

Time: 6 p.m.

Date: Thursday Sept. 21

Stadium: Ball Gymnasium 

Location: Muncie, Indiana