IOWA CITY, Iowa - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team continued its dominant play Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-14) sweep of UIC to claim the 2013 Hawkeye Challenge title.
Ball State finished the two day event with a 4-0 record, while improving to 8-3 overall this season.
“This tournament went exactly the way we needed it to, and the way I hoped it would go,” said Ball State head coach Steve Shondell. “I was hoping this would be a breakthrough weekend for us and it was. I thought we were as mentally tough as we have been all season. I felt like we found ourselves this weekend and learned what it takes to be a champion. This weekend could not have gone any better, we just have to build on it and get ready for Tuesday.”
Redshirt sophomore transfer Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) led all players in the title match with 10 kills and 15 digs for her second double-double of the weekend. Fuelling also connected at a .429 (10-1-21) clip, while adding an ace.
Led by senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East), the Ball State offense finished the match with a .376 (43-8-93) attack percentage.
The Cardinals defense also had a strong showing, limiting the Flames to a .063 (25-19-95) attacking mark. Ball State also held an 8-3 advantage in team blocks.
For her efforts in the two-day tournament, Seidel was named the Hawkeye Challenge Most Valuable Performer, while senior outside hitter Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) and senior liberal Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menominee Falls) were named to the all-tournament squad.
Sara Sternard led the UIC (4-6) attack with seven kills, while Justine Garcia collected a team-high eight digs.
A kill from Kitchel got the match started on the right note, as the Cardinals pulled out to a 5-1 lead in the first set. The BSU advantage remained four, at the 9-5 mark, before an 8-0 run gave Ball State a 17-5 edge and complete control of the set.
A kill from Marx would give the Cardinals set-point, at 24-13, while Fuelling ended the set, at 25-14, with a kill of her own.
Ball State carried over the momentum in the second set, as three early kills from Baker and an ace from Seidel put the Cardinals ahead 5-0.
The Cardinals took a 10-point lead at the 18-8 mark on an ace from sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll), before winning the frame 25-11 on a UIC attack error.
The Flames took their first lead of the match at the 2-1 mark of the third set, only to see the Cardinals answer with the next two points. With UIC leading 8-7, Kitchel used a kill and solo block to help BSU reclaim the lead at 9-8.
Ball State continued to hold a one-point edge at the 13-12 mark, before posting five-straight points, including a solo block and kill from Marx, to pull ahead 18-12. The Cardinals would go on to close out the set at 25-14 thanks to a kill off the arm of Kitchel.
The Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to action Tuesday, when it hosts IUPUI for a 7 p.m. first serve at Worthen Arena. Ball State Sports Link will televise the match live state-wide on Comcast Indiana 81, while BallStateSports.com will stream the match live and FREE of charge.