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Women's Volleyball Blocks Its Way Past SMU

   CHARLESTON, S.C. - - Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) racked up a career-high 14 total blocks to help left the Ball State women’s volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-21, 27-29, 25-13, 25-14) victory over Southern Methodist to open the second day of the College of Charleston Classic Saturday afternoon.

   The Cardinals conclude play in the two-day event this evening with a 7:30 p.m. first serve versus host College of Charleston.

   Benson’s 14 total blocks (five solo and nine assists) tie as the most for a Ball State player in the rally scoring era with Christine Kennedy’s effort of 14 versus IUPUI on Sept. 6, 2006. As a team, Ball State finished the match with a season-high 17 team blocks.

   In addition to Benson’s strong effort at the net, senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) blasted a career-high 16 kills to help the Cardinals improve to 11-3 and run their current winning streak to eight matches. Marx also connected for a career-best .667 (16-2-21) attack percentage while adding three blocks.

   Aside from the strong effort by Ball State’s middles, senior outside hitter Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) each added double-doubles. Baker finished the match with 15 kills and 12 digs, while Fuelling tallied 12 kills and 12 digs.

   Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) led the Ball State offense to a .300 (60-21-13) attack percentage, dishing out 48 assists while also scoring three kills, four block assists and five digs.

   Caroline Young led the SMU (7-5) attack with 16 kills, while Morgan Heise collected a match-best 17 digs. Overall, the Ball State defense limited the Mustangs attack to a .118 (45-30-127) rate of success for the match.

   Ball State pulled out to an 11-5 lead early in the opening set, only to see SMU battle back within one at 13-12. A kill from Baker would stop the Mustangs run and help the Cardinals reclaim a five-point edge at 18-13. After three straight SMU points forced a Ball State timeout at 18-16, the Cardinals scored seven of the final 12 points to win the frame 25-21 on a kill from Benson.

   The second set was the closest of the contest with 15 ties and five lead changes. SMU would have the first two chances to win the set, only to see Marx answer each set point with a kill to move the score to 25-25. Ball State would then have two chances to win the frame after a Benson/Seidel block and a Baker kill only to be answered each time by the Mustangs.

   With the score knotted at 27-27 after a kill from SMU’s Cailin Bula, a kill from Young would give SMU its third chance to win the set. This time, Bula would serve up an ace to give the Mustangs a 29-27 set win and even the match at 1-1.

   SMU held a slim 4-3 advantage to open the third set, only to see a block from Benson shift the momentum to Ball State’s side of the court. Ball State would go on to take a 13-7 lead on a kill from Benson, only to have the Mustangs score the next two points to pull within four at 13-9.

   That was as close as SMU would get, however, as Ball State scored the next seven points and went on to win the frame 25-13 on a blast from Marx.

   Southern Methodist scored the first two points of the fourth set, only to see Ball State take control with a 9-1 run which included a kill and three blocks from Benson. The Cardinals would go on to take a 10-point lead at 17-7 on a SMU attack error, before winning the frame (25-14) and match (3-1) on a kill from Fuelling.
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