The Toledo women’s volleyball team traveled to Michigan for two games against Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan to open up play in the Mid-American Conference. They lost a 3-2 thriller against Central Michigan before losing 3-0 to Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
The Rockets are now 5-9 (0-2 MAC) on the season as conference play begins.
Against Central Michigan, Toledo was led by first-year Chloee Kleespies with a career-high 18 kills. Fourth-year Rachel Vidourek and Saige Thomas added 17 and 14 kills, respectively.
In the first set Toledo took an early three point lead. The Chippewas answered scoring eight of the next eleven points to jump ahead.
Back and forth they went as the Rockets answered with three straight points of their own to go back in front 11-9. However that was the last time they had the lead during the first set. CMU went on two separate runs to take control and win the set 25-19.
In the next set it was Central Michigan that took the early advantage by scoring the first four points. The Rockets battled back to tie it at six after a huge kill by first-year Caleigh Barhorst. But like the first set CMU took control after that.
Unlike the first set UT was able to erase a five point deficit and even take a 21-20 lead. With the teams tied at 23, Central Michigan scored the final two points to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
The third set went back and forth early. The Rockets took a 9-4 lead thanks to several errors by CMU. The run continued with Toledo scoring four of the next five points to take a 13-5 lead.
UT was playing with a sense of urgency trying to keep the game alive but Central Michigan made a run to finish them off. They got as close as two but the Rockets were able to hold 25-19 and force another set.
The fourth set started off in an ideal fashion for UT as fourth-year Annie Beasley recorded back to back kills. The lead did not stick very long as Central Michigan scored for straight points.
There was four lead changes in this set as UT was fighting to keep the match alive. But the Rockets were able to pull away at the end of the set thanks to a .270 hitting percentage.
The fifth and final set started completely the opposite way of the fourth. Central Michigan scored the first three points and in a set were you only play to 15 UT was in for a battle they could not overcome. The Rockets fought back to cut make it 14-11 but they gave up the next point to drop the set and the match.
They had a chance to bounce back two days later as they traveled to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan. Kleespies and Beasley led the way offensively with nine kills each and Vidourek added seven kills.
The Rockets were playing well early, taking a 8-5 lead. The Eagles quickly came back to tie it at eleven. The teams went back and forth as the score was tied six times in the set.
EMU was able to take a 20-18 lead that did not relinquish. They scored seven of the last eleven points to win the set 25-22.
No team was able to pull away early in the second set until the Eagles scored six of seven points to jump ahead 10-6. UT roared back to take 16-15 lead thanks to a quick 4-0 run that forced a timeout by Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles answered back with four straight points of their own out of the timeout to force Toledo into calling for time. The Rockets settled down and back to back kills by Kleespies tied it at 23-23. UT did not hang on as they surrendered the final two points to drop the set and fall behind 2-0.
The Rockets did not go away quietly, battling the entire third set. Neither team gained an advantage of more than one through the first 18 points. But eventually the Eagles rattled off three straight to push the margin to 17-12.
UT came back to trail 22-20 with a chance to force another set. But just like the set before the Rockets let their chance slip away, conceding back to back kills to drop the set 25-21 and the match.
They battled hard in both games this weekend but starting MAC play with two losses is not easy hole to climb out of. They will get a good opportunity to start a turnaround as the lady’s open up a four game home stand at Savage Arena against Ball State on Thursday. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m.