CMU volleyball falls 0-2 in MAC play getting swept by Ball State

CMU's volleyball team shakes hands with Albany after winning on Friday, September 1 in McGuirk Arena.

Tied at eight in set one, Central Michigan volleyball looked to come out of a two-game series split, Friday. But unable to stay consistent and aggressive, the Chippewas were swept by a Ball State (21-25, 19-25, and 16-25) on the verge of earning it’s 1,000th program win in front of a home crowd. 

“I’m disappointed,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “I’m disappointed in our ability to be ready and play against the top team, and I think we are better than we played, but we have to prove that. I think we exposed a lot of things that we need to get better, and we need to do that in a hurry.”

The Chippewas fall to 0-2 in Mid-American Conference play and 7-7 overall. The Cardinals move to 2-0 in the MAC and 5-8 overall. 

“It is still early in the MAC season,” Gawlik said, “You know 0-2 is not where we want to be, but playing a top team in our conference on the road to start the year is not exactly a great draw. Comparing records yet isn’t quite apples to apples, but we have to get back to work.”

With two injuries plaguing the Chippewas sidelines, (sophomore Natalia Rejment with a shin injury and Krystina Kasson coming off bone spur surgery on Thursday) CMU looked to other players in new roles. 

“We had Abby Olin coming to an outside hitter role for us today, which is not something she’s had a ton of experience doing as our left side struggled,” Gawlik said, “So I’m proud of her ability to go in, and take a couple of big swings.” 

Junior outside hitter Linnea Willer led CMU with 13 kills.

“I thought Linnea was really the only bright spot we had today,” Gawlik said, “I thought she did a really nice job. We certainly didn’t lose the match because we didn’t have Krystina because I thought Linnea was just a wonderful kind of presence on the right side..and that’s something that we are hoping to lean on as she gets a couple more matches back in her rhythm.”

After Ball State took control in set one with an 8-2 run, finding the Chippewas' weak spots on the court to take a five-point lead as they looked for their 1,000th win in program history. As CMU continued to struggle with being aggressive, Ball State took advantage of the Chippewas, extending their lead to six with a score of 20-14. 

With back-to-back kills from Willer, CMU was able to cut the Cardinals' lead to four. Refusing to go down without a fight as Ball State reached match point, the Chippewas went on a 4-0 run, led by a kill from Willer with back-to-back kills from senior middle blocker Elly Medendorp, putting them down 21-24 to force a Cardinals timeout. Sealing the deal and breaking CMU’s run, a kill from sophomore opposite Madison Buckley gave the Cardinals their final point to win set one with a final score of 25-21. 

Two wins away from the 1,000th mark, Ball State came out hard with a quick 5-1 run to leave the Chippewas trailing early. With CMU struggling to find a rhythm to shut down the Cardinals' offense, Ball State was able to extend its lead by six and forcing a Chippewas’ timeout. 

A kill from Chippewas sophomore defensive specialist Alina Anderson was followed up by a block from Lauren Schrock, as CMU trailed 17-13. Struggling with errors, CMU quickly fell behind and Ball State extended their lead to seven with a score of 20-13m forcing a Chippewas timeout. Trailing by seven, back-to-back blocks from Willer and sophomore middle blocker Brooklyn Conner gave CMU some momentum and left Ball State at set point. Once again it wasn’t enough as Madison Buckley and Camryn Wise came up with a block to secure set two with a final score of 25-19. 

Down by three in do-or-die territory, a kill from Willer sparked a Chippewas 4-0 run with two errors from Ball State, and back-to-back blocks from Medendrop to tie the game at five. Unphased, the Cardinals managed to regain their lead, going on a 4-2 run to make the score 9-7. 

Despite back-to-back kills from Conner and Willer, Ball State continued to extend their lead to four going on a 6-3 run 11 points away from a possible weekend sweep. Continuing with a rhythm, the Cardinals extended their lead to seven going on a 7-3 run as the Chippewas struggled to get a consistent rally going. The unstoppable Cardinals were able to secure the weekend sweep and their 1,000th program win with a final score of 25-16.

CMU has a quick turnaround, heading to Ypsilanti against Eastern Michigan University at 6 p.m.