With the season winding down, every MAC game is critical. The UT Rocket volleyball team felt that importance this past weekend when they split two contests against MAC rivals Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.
The first game of the weekend was a five-set barn burner against Western Michigan at Savage Arena.
In the first set, it was all Broncos. After grabbing a very early lead of 2-1, the Rockets never regained it. Western would cruise for a seamless 25-16 win in the first set.
Looking for a spur of the moment in the second set, the Rockets found it from standout fourth-year Maurissa Leonard. Leonard became integral to the Rockets’ success, she led a Rocket’s charge that seemed to have the set in hand until a late charge by Western knotted the game at 19. However, the Rockets finished strong and won the set 25-23.
In the third set, another decisive Western win came. The Broncos wasted no time jumping out to a 2-1 set lead. The Rockets took a 1-0 lead to start, but that is the only lead they had for the set, as they lost 25-14.
After losing two sets badly, and barely winning the other, the Rockets were down, but certainly not out. The resiliency of the Rockets was apparent in the fourth set. After a breathtaking 11 ties and seven lead changes, the Rockets prevailed with a 25-22 win to extend the match to a fifth set. Chloe Kleespies - who had a game-high 20 kills - was monumental in the Rockets’ victory.
In the fifth set, drama ensued as Western would tie the match three separate times late in the frame. It was the Rockets, though, who went home happy as they won the set 15-13, to win over Western 3-2.
The second match of the weekend pitted the Rockets against the Huskies from Northern Illinois. The Huskies came hungry to Toledo for a win.
In the first two sets, the match was very competitive. The Huskies came out swinging in the first and it gave them an early lead. This early lead would propel them to an easy 25-20 victory.
The Rockets responded well after the loss in the first. They jumped out early and exploded to a 17-9 lead and held that lead to a victory despite a ferocious Huskie comeback, 25-23.
The buck would stop there, as the Rockets dropped the next two sets, 25-16 both times as the Huskies came away with a big win on the road, 3-1.
The Rockets fall to 9-14 on the season and 4-8 in conference play. Their next contest is 7:00 PM, Nov. 2 against Eastern Michigan, in Ypsilanti, Michigan