TAMPA, Fla. - - In its toughest battle of the weekend, the Ball State women’s volleyball team fell one point short of victory in a hard-fought 3-2 (28-26, 18-25, 25-21, 14-25, 18-16) setback to tournament host USF Saturday evening at The Corral.
After falling behind 6-3 early in the deciding fifth set, the Cardinals (2-1) rallied to reach match point three times at 14-13, 15-14 and 16-15. Unfortunately, BSU errors allowed the Bulls (3-1) to tie the score each time. With the score knotted at 16, USF used a block and a kill from Kayla Bivins to score the final two points and win the set 18-16 and the match 3-2.
In her third outstanding performance of the weekend, redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson blasted a career-high 16 kills to go along with a .441 (16-1-34) hitting mark. She also added a pair of blocks and was named to the USF All-Tournament Team.
Senior outside hitter Kylee Baker led all players with a career-high tying 18 kills, while collecting 16 digs for her first double-double of the season. Baker, who missed the final 17 matches last season due to injury, also served up a career-high five aces.
Redshirt sophomore transfer outside hitter Alex Fuelling added her second career double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs, while also throwing up three total blocks to earn USF All-Tournament Team accolades.
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel tallied her second double-double of the season with 56 assists and 15 digs. Seidel, who collected nine digs in the first set, guided the Ball State offense to a .215 (75-33-195) hitting mark in the contest.
Senior libero Catie Fredrich once again paced the Ball State backcourt with 19 digs.
Carissa Whalen led the USF attack with 15 kills, while Bivins finished the contest with 10. Erin Fairs paced the Bulls defense with 22 digs, while Amy Van Sant added 10.
After falling behind 10-6 in the opening set, the Cardinals battled back with six of the next eight points to even the score at 12-12. From there, the teams battled back-and-forth to a 26-26 deadlock. Unfortunately, a kill from Fairs gave the Bulls their fourth set point, while a block from Fairs and Jennica Mullins ended the frame at 28-26.
With the Cardinals leading 18-17 in the second set, a pair of critical USF errors gave BSU the momentum and a 20-17 edge. Following a Bulls timeout, a kill from Benson continued the Ball State surge as the guests scored five of the final six points to win the set 25-18. Benson added two more kills in the final push, while a Fuelling ace capped the set.
Ball State held a slim 5-4 edge in the third set, only to see USF post the next five points. The hosts would control play from there, as the Cardinals would get no closer than two points the rest of the frame. A Whalen kill eventually ended the set at 25-21.
The score of the fourth set was close early, with the Cardinals holding a slim 9-8 edge. However, the Cardinals were determined to force a fifth set and closed out the game with a 16-6 run. Fuelling helped account for each of the set’s final four points with three kills and a block assist.
The Ball State women’s volleyball team opens the home portion of its 2013 schedule Wednesday, with a 7 p.m. matchup versus in-state rival IPFW at Worthen Arena.