MOUNT PLEASANT - The Central Michigan volleyball team secured the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Mid-American Conference Tournament, winning a back-and-forth five-set match over Ball State Saturday night inside McGuirk Arena.
The seniors proved to be the heroes in their final home game of their careers as Lindsey Dulude finished the night with a season-high 20 kills and 20 digs, Val DeWeerd set a new career high with 17 kills and Jocelyn VerVelde came off the bench to slam home 11 kills over the final three sets for a new season high.
In addition to the tremendous play of the seniors, junior Kelly Maxwell nearly tied the CMU record for assists in a five-match set, coming up just one short as she dished out a career-high 79 helpers. Sophomore Kaitlyn McIntyre also continued her stellar play, putting home a match-best 26 kills, an ace and two blocks for 28.5 points on the night.
The Chippewas (15-12, 9-7 MAC) took sets two, 25-23, three, 29-27, and five, 17-15 to win the match, while the Cardinals (14-15, 7-9 MAC) claimed sets one, 31-29, and three, 29-27, as four of the five sets took extra points to win.
The Maroon and Gold fell behind in the decisive fifth set, 10-7, but used kills from VerVelde and Dulude and a pair of errors on the Cardinals to go on a 4-0 run and take the lead, 11-10. After a Ball State timeout, VerVelde recorded her 10th kill of the night to make it a 5-0 run and extend the lead to 12-10. Another VerVelde kill gave the Chippewas set point, 14-12, but the Cardinals batted back to tie the set and after fending off yet another match point by the Chippewas, DeWeerd and Dulude put away back-to-back kills to seal the victory.
After dropping set one, 31-29, the Chippewas bounced back with the only regulation win of the evening in set two, 25-23. CMU again found itself down early as Ball State built a six-point lead, 10-4, that was capped on a kill from Lisa Scott. After junior Danielle Gotham gave the Chippewas their first lead of the set, 15-14, the two teams battled back and forth as neither was able to build more than a one-point lead the rest of the way until CMU took advantage of an attacking error on Kelly Hopkins and followed it with a kill from Dulude to claim the lead, 24-22.
Ball State called a timeout and a McIntyre serve went long pulling the Cardinals within one, 24-23, but DeWeerd once again came up in the clutch, putting away a kill from Maxwell to send the teams into the locker room tied at a set apiece.
The Chippewas took a 2-1 match lead with a 29-27 victory in set three behind a combined 14 kills from its seniors Dulude, DeWeerd and VerVelde. Trailing by just one, 17-16, VerVelde came up with a kill to tie the match and again tied the match at 19 before a error on the Cardinals and an ace from Dulude gave CMU a lead, 21-19, and forced Ball State into a timeout.
Again neither team was able to claim more than a one-point advantage down the stretch and Ball State held the lead as late as 26-25 on a kill from Mindy Marx, but Dulude scored three of the Chippewas' final four points for the set win.
Four players finished with double-digit dig efforts on the night as junior Jenna Coates tied Dulude with 20 for a team-high. Maxwell pitched in with 12 digs and true freshman Kristen Reenders came up with a career-high 10 digs in the winning effort.
Senior Samantha Brawley was also key in the victory, finishing the night with six digs and a perfect serve-receive percentage in the backcourt.
With the victory the Chippewas secured the No. 6 seed in next week's MAC Tournament, the same seed they won the 2011 MAC Tournament with a year ago. The Chippewas will face off versus No. 3 seed and MAC West champion rival Western Michigan in the first round. The two teams split their two meetings this season with each team winning the home match.
A full release on the 2012 MAC Tournament at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio will be available on CMUChippewas.com Sunday afternoon.