MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team concluded play in the Diet Coke Classic with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-18) sweep of Western Illinois Saturday evening at No.4 Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion.
The Cardinals, who suffered a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-22) setback to Duke earlier in the day, finish the event with a 4-3 overall record. The Leathernecks fall to 2-5 with the loss.
After struggling offensively in its first two matches at the Diet Coke Classic, the Cardinals found their grove against Western Illinois by connecting for a .344 (41-8-96) rate of success as a team.
In Saturday’s night cap, senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) tied for team-high honors with 10 kills apiece.
Marx led all players with a .643 (10-1-14) hitting mark and was named to the Diet Coke Classic All-Tournament team for her efforts over the two-day tournament. Fuelling connected at a .333 (10-2-24) clip and tallied 10 digs for her fourth kill/dig double-double of the season.
Redshirt transfer freshman outside attacker Mackenzie Kitchel (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove/Cincinnati) also turned in the best performance to date in her young career, racking up career-bests of seven kills and a .375 (7-1-16) attack percentage.
Sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) guided the Ball State offense in the win, dishing out 31 assists while also collecting three kills and six digs.
In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) posted double-digit digs for the seventh time this season, tying for team-high honors with 10.
WIU’s Ann Miller led all players with 11 kills, while Bailey Kaloupek collected a match-best 15 digs. Overall, the Ball State defense limited the Leathernecks’ to a .099 (35-24-111) attack percentage for the match.
In the opening set, the Cardinals scored four of the first five points starting with a service ace from Spadafora. A Fuelling kill would give the Cardinals a 10-point advantage, at 19-9, while a WIU attack error ultimately ended the set at 25-17.
Ball State jumped out to a 5-1 edge in the second set, only to see the Leathernecks battle back within one at 7-6. A kill from Fuelling would give BSU the momentum back, however, as the Cardinals scored 10 of the next 13 points to take control of the stanza. Ball State went on to win the frame 25-16 on a kill from redshirt sophomore opposite Kelly Hopkins (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo).
Western Illinois scored the first two points of the third set to take its first lead of the night. However, a service error and a kill from Hopkins helped the Cardinals tie the score on their way to a 5-2 edge. Ball State took a five-point lead at the 10-5 mark, only to see the Leathernecks battle back within one point at 12-11.
WIU remained within two points, at the 15-13 mark, only to see the Cardinals post an 8-2 run to pull ahead 23-15. A Marx kill would give BSU match-point, at 24-16, and after two Western Illinois points, Marx would smash the match-winner at 25-18.
Ball State and Western Illinois will meet again next Friday in the Cardinals’ opening match of the Hawkeye Challenge hosted by Iowa. Match time is set for 2 p.m. (CT).
Duke 3 – Ball State 0
The Cardinals opened the second day of the Diet Coke Classic with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-22) setback to Duke.
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) led the Ball State offense with 11 kills, while adding eight digs and a .292 (11-4-24) attack percentage.
Defensively, senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) paced the BSU backcourt with 12 digs.
Emily Sklar led the Blue Devils attack with a match-best 13 kills, while the team as a whole held a .176 (45-24-119) to .067 (28-21-104) attacking advantage. Ali McCrudy paced the Duke defense with 15 digs.
The teams battled to a 20-20 stalemate in the opening set, before a kill from redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) and a Duke attack error gave the Cardinals a 22-20 edge. Unfortunately, Duke would come out of a timeout on fire, scoring the next four points and eventually winning the frame 25-23 on a block from Sklar and Jordan Tucker.
Ball State held an 8-5 lead early in the second set, only to see Duke rally back to take a 10-9 lead. With the score tied at 14-14, the Blue Devils would put together a 9-2 run to take control of the game. Duke went on to win the set 25-17 on a BSU attack error.
Duke scored the first five points of the third set and would never trail. Ball State battled back within one point, at 14-13, only to see the Blue Devils respond with three straight points.
Trailing 21-15, the Cardinals once again battled back, this time tying the score at 22 in a run which saw Fuelling blast three kills. Unfortunately, Duke retaliated with the next three points to win the set 25-22.