YPSILANTI, Mich. - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team opened Mid-American Conference play with a dominating 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-23) victory over Eastern Michigan Friday evening at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 13-3 (1-0 MAC) and run their current winning streak to 10 matches. The winning streak ties as the longest under current head coach Steve Shondell, who led Ball State to 10 consecutive wins to close out the 2010 regular season.
“I was extremely pleased with our defensive effort tonight,” Shondell said. “We may have played our finest defensive match of the season. It was also very encouraging to see our team fight back from a 9-2 deficit in the third set. It takes mental toughness to win on the road in the MAC and we displayed lots of it tonight.”
On defense, the Cardinals limited the Eastern Michigan (10-6/0-1 MAC) offense to just 20 kills and a .047 (20-15-106) rate of success in the match. Ball State also held a dominating 65-36 edge in digs led by senior libero Catie Fredrich’s (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) match-high 22.
Leading the way for the Ball State offense was senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) with a match-best 12 kills. Marx, the reigning MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week, has now collected double-digit kills in each of Ball State’s last five matches. She also connected for a career-best .688 (12-1-16) attack percentage in the victory, while accounting for three total blocks.
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) also posted double-digit kills in her first MAC match, with 11 markers. She also scored eight digs, three blocks and a service ace.
Senior Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) and sophomore Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) combined to set the Ball State offense to a .203 (50-26-118) hitting mark on the night. Seidel also finished the contest with her sixth double-double of the season by earning 28 assists and 11 digs.
Stacey Perinar led the EMU attack with seven kills, while no other player had more than four. Corynne Smith logged a team-best 15 digs.
Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) smashed kills on two of the first four rallies to help the Cardinals jump out to a 4-0 advantage in the opening set. Fuelling added back-to-back blasts several rallies later to extend Ball State’s lead to 8-2. EMU would get no closer than five points the rest of the set, as the Cardinals went on to win 25-17.
The teams battled to a 9-9 deadlock to open the second frame before a kill from senior opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) and back-to-back aces from Seidel allowed BSU to rattle off the next three points and take the lead for good in the set at 12-9. The Eagles closed the gap to one point, at 13-12, only to have a pair of solo blocks from Marx help Ball State respond with the next five points. The Cardinals went on to win the set 25-17 on a blast from Benson.
Eastern Michigan looked determined to win the third set early, playing to a 9-2 advantage. However, Ball State would battle back and eventually even the score at 15 off a kill from Fuelling. Ball State took its first lead of the set moments later at 19-18 on a blast from Grant.
While the Eagles countered with the next two points, Ball State used a kill from redshirt freshman outside hitter Mackenzie Kitchel (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove/Cincinnati) and an ace from senior Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) to regain the momentum and a 21-20 edge. An EMU attack error and kills from Benson and Marx eventually gave BSU its first match-point at 24-21.
Eastern Michigan posted the next two points, but it was not enough as Marx closed out the set (25-23) and the match (3-0) with her match-best 12th kill of the night.The Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to action tomorrow, with a 7 p.m. first serve at Central Michigan.