CMU volleyball sweeps Northern Illinois in weekend series
Throwing the ball in the air and jumping up to serve, Central Michigan volleyball outside hitter Natalia Rejment made her presence known for the first time this season, after dealing with an injury as she delivered a service ace on Friday against Northern Illinois University.
“Natalia is just good experience for us,” said head coach Mike Gawlik. “… It gets some of that experience back on the floor …. Natalia being able to get back in our lineup today is great and her quality of contact on both serve receive and defense is really helpful for us.”
Rejment would record two service aces on the night helping lead the Chippewas to sweep NIU 31-29, 25-19, and 25-15.
“She (Natalia) brings a very calm presence on the floor,” Gawlik said. “She’s been doing great, and I thought she was one of many people that had a good match tonight.”
The Chippewas continued their momentum into the second game on Saturday, taking down the Huskies in four sets 25-15, 16-25, 26-24, 25-18.
CMU moves to 4-7 in the Mid-American Conference and 10-13 overall.
“I thought we were really able to shine with our ability to keep performing at a high level,” Gawlik said. “... so, I think the more we play with this modification, then the more comfortable we get with it. And we get to stop thinking about where am I on the floor and more just how do I play volleyball as it becomes more and more second nature the more, we play.”
With the Huskies threatening to take the lead in the first set, senior middle blocker Elly Medendorp slammed down a kill to keep the Chippewas lead intact, 13-11. CMU continued to extend its lead with a 4-0 run forcing an NIU timeout as they trailed 16-11.
Finding momentum, the Huskies again started to climb back going on a 9-4 run to tie the game at 20. Following a back-and-forth volley, NIU took its first lead of the set with two errors from the Chippewas making the score 24-23, one point away from taking the match.
Back-to-back kills from Krystina Kasson gave CMU its lead back with a score of 25-24. After a back-and-forth battle and two challenge calls from the Huskies both teams refused to go down without a fight, but a block from Linnea Willer sealed the deal for the Chippewas with a score of 31-29
Tied at 10 in set two, an NIU error led to back-to-back points for CMU to break the tie and lead with a score of 13-11. Keeping the momentum in their hands, the Chippewas would go on a 6-2 run aided by a service ace from Rejment to extend the score to 18-13. Refusing to go down without a fight, NIU would record three kills as part of a 6-5 run to cut the score to 22-19. Unphased CMU sealed the deal with back-to-back points to take set two, 25-19.
Looking to complete the sweep, the Chippewas kept the energy into the third set with 4-0 run aided by a service ace from Claire Ammeraal, to give CMU the 9-5 lead. A duo block from Medendorp and Abby Olin helped to keep the Huskies off the board and led to a service ace from Rejment to take a 10-point lead.
Coming back with a service ace of their own, the Huskies cut the lead to six with a 3-0 run, forcing a CMU timeout. Unphased, the Chippewas came back with a run of their own to make the score 22-13. A block from Medendorp would seal the deal for CMU with a final score of 25-15.
Willer led with 12 kills as her and Kasson shared time on the court.
“I think it’s awesome because since we’re the same position, we’re also each other’s biggest cheerleaders,” Willer said. “We’re seeing the court from the same perspective, and I think it helps us out because we are always trying to talk to each other simply saying what we see and what’s open.”
Kasson was not far behind Willer with 11 kills.
“It’s nice (and) I love it,” Kasson said. “I like that we get to spilt time, it is so fun. I think it’s awesome and I think it is really fun to be sharing this role and to do this and play really well. I think it shows that it can work and that there is success in it.”
Kasson recorded kill number 14 to give Central Michigan volleyball a 10-point lead, 24-14 in the fourth set against Northen Illinois in match two on Saturday.
Kasson was not done for the night as she secured the match point win for the Chippewas claiming a 3-1 victory against the Huskies.
“We know we can get hot, and we know we can be playing some really good volleyball down the stretch,” Gawlik said.
Kasson led the team with 15 kills and two blocks with junior outside hitter Lauren Schrock not far behind with 12 kills. Medendorp racked up nine kills and four blocks.
“We knew that they (NIU) would be looking at the score sheet from yesterday saying we have to slow down the right sides,” Gawlik said. “We thought that that would create some opportunities for us on the other side of the ball.”
Schrock came off the bench for CMU and posed a big threat for NIU.
“For Lauren to step in and take care of that, she’s really shown a lot of growth I think throughout her season,” Gawlik said.
The Chippewas dominated the first set 25-15 to continue the momentum from night one. However, NIU shot right back to take the second set 25-16.
“They really showed up to play today, and we got to give them credit for that, but we got to go back to our side and keep playing and I think we did a good job of bouncing back,” Ammeraal said.
Ammeraal recorded a double-double in the match, tallying 47 assists, 11 digs and eight kills for the Chippewas.
“Claire did some nice things up at the net creating offensive moments for herself and that really freezes middle blockers on the other side so that when we set other people they’re getting good looks,” Gawlik said. “That’s why Lauren hits well or Krystina hits well is because they have this protection."
After dropping the second set, CMU bounced back in set three, scrapping by with the 26-24 win. The Chippewas continued its performance into the fourth set to seal the win, 25-18.
“Knowing that when you’re doing good, your teammates are supporting you too," Schrock said. I feel like that makes us a very well-rounded team.”
The Chippewas look to build on the momentum from this weekend as they look ahead to the rest of the season.
“It’s super big knowing that this is a new lineup, knowing that this is just kind of the start," Schrock said. "We can just build off of that.”
CMU will host Bowling Green on Friday in McGuirk Arena at 6 p.m.