'We've got to get ready to punch back'

CMU volleyball splits series against Toledo


Senior middle blocker Austyn DeWeese hits the ball during a game against Toledo, Sunday, Oct. 1 in McGuirk Arena. DeWeese was player of the game and a starter, both being a career first for DeWeese. (CM-Life | Marie Underwood)

With the chance to split the series and sweep Toledo in match two, Central Michigan volleyball senior middle blocker Elly Medendorp and sophomore outside hitter Maddy Gebhardt blocked an attempted kill to secure the sweep on Sunday. 

“I feel like yesterday in set one we were the aggressors,” head coach Mike Gawlik said. “We were the ones that were kind of bullying them in set one and then they came back and punched us right in the face in set two yesterday. ... A couple times today we went down early, but I liked our response better today.”

Dropping match one against the Rockets, the Chippewas split the series to go 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play and 8-9 overall. Toledo moves to 3-1 in MAC and 5-10 overall. 

“There’s a lot of good teams in this league,” Gawlik said. “I think we’re one of them. I think we’re right in the mix with just about anybody on any given night.”

Medendorp led CMU with 26 total kills over the weekend. 

“I am a senior now, and I need to be more consistent,” Medendorp said. “I think that I have that depth in that area, and I think while I did play rather well this weekend, I still have to carry that on.” 

Austyn DeWeese, who has struggled with injuries throughout her career at CMU, led the team in blocks in the match with five. 

"It feels really good,” DeWeese said. “All the work that I've put in when I had (a) shoulder surgery and all that hard recovery time I had, it just felt so good to finally have that pay off in the end to get my time on the court.”

The match on Sunday marked her first start of the season. Along with creating defensive pressure at the net, DeWeese added six kills in the win. 

“I’m really proud of Austyn because I think a lot of people have this decision to make ... if you’re going to be mentally engaged or not," Gawlik said. "And I think Austyn did that even throughout her injury; (she) has been a presence in our gym." 

Match one

After letting the Rockets score the first point of the match, a kill from sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Abby Olin led the Chippewas to a 6-0 run. Toledo secured three points in a row, aided by a service ace to cut CMU's lead to five. 

However, that didn’t stop the Chippewas coming back with a kill from Medendorp and a service ace from grad student outside hitter Devon Bright to extend their lead to seven, with a score of 12-5. 

Jumping up from the right side, junior outside hitter Lauren Schrock gave CMU a 10-point lead, two points away from a set-one victory. 

Refusing to go down without a fight, the Rockets held the Chippewas for two points. The comeback effort wasn’t enough, as sophomore middle blocker Brooklyn Conner sealed the deal for CMU with a kill, 25-16. 

Unphased by the Chippewas' set one victory, the Rockets came out strong, taking an early 8-2 lead. Struggling with errors on the Chippewas' side, Toledo was able to extend its lead 15-5, forcing a CMU timeout.  

Sliding across the court to dig for a ball, junior libero Aly Gurtiza helped lead CMU to back-to-back points, trailing the Rockets 20-9. Not enough to create momentum, Toledo took control of set two and came out victorious with a final score of 25-11 to tie the match at one. 

The Chippewas had a total of 10 errors in set two.

After going down two, early in set three, CMU's Olin tied the game back at nine two-straight kills. Back-to-back kills from Linnea Willer and Maddy Gebhardt, followed by a service ace from Gurtiza, allowed the Chippewas to take a one-point lead.

Following the CMU run, the Rockets tied the game back up at 16, with back-to-back points. Keeping the momentum in their hands, Toledo took a three-point lead, 20-17, forcing a Chippewas timeout. 

Breaking the Rockets' 5-0 run CMU and Toledo fought back and forth in a volley, until an attack error from the Rockets gave the Chippewas a point as they trailed 23-18. Unable to keep the momentum in their hands, Toledo took a 2-1 set lead with a final score of 25-18. 

In do-or-die territory, the Chippewas were down by one, 15-14. A fake wind-up from DeWeese allowed Olin to set up for the kill and nail it down to tie the game at 16. The Rockets broke the tie, but CMU refused to give up and tied the game back up at 17 with a service error from the Rockets. 

Toledo broke the tie yet again and went on a 3-0 run, but that didn’t stop the Chippewas. Gurtiza came up with a service ace to lead to a kill from Gebhardt and tie the game again at 20. 

Winding up from the outside, Medendorp nailed down a kill to give CMU its first lead in set four, as they sat in the do-or-die territory with a score of 24-23. 

With the Chippewas one point away from taking the set, the Rockets took the lead back with back-to-back points, but a block from Gebhardt tied the game again at 25. A CMU error gave Toledo the edge, 27-25 and win the match 3-1. 

Match Two 

Looking to bounce back the next day, the Chippewas opened set one with the first point. But it was all Rockets after that, as they went on a 5-2 run to take the early lead.

CMU wasn't able to create a consistent volley, as Toledo extended its lead to 15-11. Back-to-back blocks from Medendorp followed by a kill gave the Chippewas their first lead of the game, 16-15. 

Regaining their footing, the Rockets were able to find the momentum to create a 6-3 run to lead 21-19. However, a block from Medendorp sealed the deal for CMU to take set one with a final score of 25-23. 

Medendorp led the Chippewas with five kills, hitting .571 in the set. 

Tied at four in set two, CMU took the lead going on a 7-3 run, aided by a service ace from Gebhardt to take the 10-7 lead. A back-and-forth battle from both sides of the net kept Toledo in the game with a score of 14-12.

Getting their first lead of the set, the Rockets went on a 6-3 run with three kills in a row to make the score 18-17. An attack error from Toledo gave CMU its momentum back as it went on a 4-1 run to regain their lead, forcing a Rockets timeout as they led 21-19.

Both teams, refusing to drop the set, battled back and forth with lead changes, ties, and hitting set point five times until an attack error from the Rockets gave the Chippewas a 2-0 set lead, 28-26. 

Refusing to go down without a fight, the Rockets came out with all the momentum, taking a four-point lead early. A block followed by a kill from DeWeese aided CMU to climb back to trail by one, 10-9. 

Coming up big with a block again, DeWeese tied the game at 10, leading to a block from Gebhardt as the Chippewas took their first lead of the set. 

A final block from Schrock sealed the deal for CMU, 27-25 to sweep the Rockets in match two and end the weekend with a split. 

CMU heads to Buffalo, New York, on Thursday to take on the Buffalo Bulls at 6 p.m.

“It’s a quick turnaround on Thursday,” Gawlik said. “We’ve got to rest up and get our bodies back ... and get ready for another street fight.”