IOWA CITY, Iowa - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team took down Big Ten foe and tournament host Iowa by a score of 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17) Friday night to end the first day of the Hawkeye Challenge.
In picking up his first win over a Big Ten opponent, head coach Steve Shondell saw his Cardinals improve to 6-3 on the season, while handing Iowa just its second loss as the Hawkeyes fall to 6-2.
The Cardinals close play in the Hawkeye Challenge tomorrow with matches versus Drake (10 a.m. CT) and Illinois-Chicago (2 p.m. CT).
“I thought we turned in a great team effort tonight,” Shondell said. “Beating a Big Ten team on its home court is not an easy task. I am really proud of the way the team competed in the final two sets to allow us to bring a marquee victory back to Muncie.”
Leading the way for the Ball State offense was redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) who blasted a match-high 20 kills. The effort marks the second time this season Fuelling has tagged 20-or-more kills in a match, while she also added 10 digs for her fifth kill/dig double-double of the season.
Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) also tallied double-digit kills for Ball State, collecting 10 while hitting .429 (10-1-21).
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) added her third double-double of the campaign with 34 assists and 12 digs.
Senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) led all players with a season-high 25 digs, marking the second match on the day she recorded season-high dig numbers. The effort also marked her 80th career match with double-figure digs and the 24th time she has recorded 20-or-more digs in a match.
Overall, the Ball State offense connected for a .252 (60-23-147) attack percentage, while the defense limited the Hawkeyes to a .079 (35-24-140) rate of success.
Alex Lovell led the Iowa attack with 11 kills, while Bethany Yeager posted a team-high 20 digs.
The teams played to a 3-3 tie in the opening set, before a Ball State block and four consecutive Iowa errors led to a Hawkeyes timeout at 8-3. BSU followed the break with kills from redshirt sophomore opposite Kelly Hopkins (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) and Fuelling to pull ahead 10-3.
From there, the Cardinals cruised to a 25-14 opening set victory which was capped by a kill from redshirt freshman transfer outside hitter Mackenzie Kitchel (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove/Cincinnati). Overall, the Cardinals connected for a .577 (15-0-26) attack percentage in the opening set, while limiting Iowa to a .069 (9-7-29) rate of success.
The Hawkeyes looked to reverse their fortune early in the second set, pulling ahead 12-2. However, Ball State managed to claw back into the set by drawing within two at 17-15 following a Fuelling kill.
Trailing 21-18, the Cardinals used a pair of kills and a block to even the score at 21. Unfortunately, Iowa scored the next two points and went on to win the frame 25-22 on a BSU service error.
With the score of the third set tied at 4-4, an Iowa attack error followed by three consecutive kills from Fuelling gave the guests a brief 8-4 edge. The hosts responded with an 11-1 run to pull ahead 15-9 and force BSU to use both its timeouts along the way.
Following the Cardinals second timeout, a kill from Benson sparked a 5-0 Ball State run and pushed the score to 15-14. After Iowa used its first 75-second break, the Cardinals scored two of the next three points to tie the score at 16 on a kill from senior outside hitter Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North).
Ball State would then regain the lead at 17-16 after a kill from senior opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cinncinnati). Moments later, another Grant kill gave the Cardinals a 20-18 edge and led to the Hawkeyes’ second timeout. A Fuelling ace would give Ball State set-point, at 24-20, while an Iowa attack error ended the frame at 25-20.
Seidel served up a pair of aces to help the Cardinals pull ahead 3-0 early in the fourth set. Ball State would extend its lead to five points, at 8-3, after a blast from senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) and maintain the margin at 15-10.
Moments later, Ball State forced Iowa to use its final timeout after freshman defensive specialist Nikki Box (Yorktown, Ind./Yorktown) made a diving save on a ball going over the scorer’s table to help setup a Fuelling kill which made the score 17-11. Iowa would battle back within four points, at 20-16, only to see the Cardinals win the set 25-17 on a kill from Fuelling.