The women’s volleyball team played their last home game of the season against Central Michigan Saturday, Oct. 28 and lost the contest 3-2.
Emotion and energy was in the air at Savage Arena Saturday night, as fourth-years Saige Thomas, Brianna Foster, Lauren Bakaitis, Rachel Vidourek and Annie Beasley took the court for the last time.
Prior to the game’s start, Thomas was recognized for recording her 1,000th kill as a Rocket. [I1] Trying for one last home victory, the Rockets stumbled early, starting the first set in a 9-1 hole. True to this group’s endurance and resolve, however, they battled back. The Rockets would tie the first set 20-20 before faltering down the stretch and eventually losing, 25-23.
In the second set, the Rockets led by as much as nine points and carried that momentum to a 25-19 set victory to even the contest up at one set apiece.
As the third set started, neither team could take command. The Rockets held true deep into the third set as the they clung to a 17-16 lead. The girls’ opportunity to break a 1-1 set tie and take an advantage wavered as they quickly lost the lead late and fell to the Chippewas 25-20 in the third set.
With their backs against the wall, the Rockets responded in a big way in the fourth set. With Central Michigan vying to claim the match, the Chippewas quickly learned it wasn’t going to come easy.
The fourth set was the closest of the night, with the Rockets taking a 13-10 lead midway through. The Chippewas, however, closed the gap and looked in control as they took a 22-20 lead. The resolve and leadership of the Rocket team, though, was what shone through the end of the fourth set, as they went on a 5-1 run to win 25-23 and force a fifth set.
The Rockets and Chippewas faced off in a fitting and decisive fifth set. Fitting, because neither team was able to assert themselves, and a do-or-die fifth set seemed to be the only way a team could. It was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams claiming leads in the fifth: 7-5 Rockets and then 10-7 Chippewas. Toledo cut the Chippewa lead to 13-12, but it was not enough as Central Michigan closed the game out with a 15-12 set victory to win the match, 3-2.
It was not the way the seniors wanted their last home game to be, but, nevertheless, head coach Greg Smith had kind words about his senior group.
“When you become seniors, you have to step up, and I think they’ve done a nice job of that,” Smith said. “It’s been a really good transition for them, and we look forward to seeing if they can get us ready for the tournament.”
When asked about what he considered to be the silver lining from the Rocket loss to Central Michigan, he said, “We had some good individual play; individuals don’t win a team sport, and that’s the unfortunate thing about what happened tonight.”
The Rockets have a four-game road trip before the MAC tournament begins. The UT record is now 11-13.