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WVB Sweeps Drake To Open Day 2 Of Hawkeye Challenge

   IOWA CITY, Iowa - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team remained perfect on the weekend with a dominating 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-19) victory over Drake in its first of two matches on the final day of the Hawkeye Challenge hosted by Iowa.

   The Cardinals, who moved to 7-3 overall and to 3-0 in the Hawkeye Challenge, are one victory away from claiming the tournament title, as they will battle UIC later this afternoon in a 2 p.m. (CT) first serve at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

   Redshirt freshman transfer Mackenzie Kitchel (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove/Cincinnati) led all attackers with 12 kills, marking the second time this weekend she had blasted double-digit kills. She also hit .357 (12-2-28) in the match, while capping the first set with a solo block.

   Redshirt sophomore opposite Kelly Hopkins (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) was second among all attackers with eight kills. Overall, 14 different Cardinals saw action in the victory with eight players recording at least one kill.

   Defensively, senior outside hitter Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) led all players with a season-high tying 18 digs, while senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) added 14.

   Ball State also turned in a strong performance at the net, racking up eight total blocks, with seven of them being solo stuffs. Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) led the way with four total blocks, including three solos.

   On offense, the Cardinals connected for a .265 (43-16-102) attack percentage, while limiting Drake (1-9) to a .061 (23-17-98) rate of success.

   Amanda Platte led the Bulldogs with seven kills, while Sarah Madden posted a team-best 16 digs.

   Thanks in part to a strong block and a pair of aces from Tegan LaBerge, the Bulldogs pulled out to a quick 7-3 advantage in the opening set. The Drake lead was short-lived, however, as a kill from Hopkins sparked a BSU rally which tied the score at 7-7.

   Moments later, the Cardinals would pull ahead 9-8 on a kill from sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) and ace from redshirt sophomore transfer outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State). With Ball State leading by one, at 13-12, Fuelling and Hopkins would each blast back-to-back kills while an ace from Fredrich led to a Drake timeout at 18-12.

   The Cardinals cruised from there, winning the opening set 25-15 on a solo block from Kitchel.

   With the score tied at 6-6 early in the second set, Drake called an early timeout to setup a quick play. The plan backfired, however, as senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) came up with a solo block out of the break to spark an 8-1 Ball State run making the score 14-7.

   Another solo block, this time from Benson, helped BSU score three more points following the Bulldogs second timeout to move the score to 17-7. Ball State would go on to win the set 25-15 on junior transfer middle Amanda Raker’s (Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian/Butler) first collegiate volleyball kill.

   Trailing 5-3 in the third set, the Cardinals responded with a 4-0 run to take their first lead at 7-5 following a Spadafora kill. With BSU maintaining a 9-8 edge, the Cardinals posted eight straight points, including four kills from Kitchel, to take control of the frame. Ball State went on to win the set 25-19 on a kill from Marx.
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