MUNCIE, Ind. – After dropping the first set and trailing 19-14 in the second, the Ball State women’s volleyball team rallied to score a 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-14) victory over Western Michigan Friday night at Worthen Arena.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 16-4 overall and move into sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference West Division with a 4-1 league mark.
The Broncos fall to 10-8 (3-2 MAC) with the loss, while Saturday’s opponent Northern Illinois suffered a 3-2 setback at Toledo to drop to 11-8 (3-2 MAC). The Cardinals and the Huskies will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Worthen Arena in the final match of the 2013 Active Ankle Challenge.
“I thought game two was very important, as we had to do some real soul searching down 19-14,” said Ball State head coach Steve Shondell. “Everything was going in Western’s favor, but we finally started competing and playing our normal game. Winning that second game was huge and shifted the momentum in our favor. I would like to thank the band and the great crowd tonight, as we were able to feed off their energy and battle our way back into the match.”
Trailing 19-14 in the second set, the Cardinals used a kill and ace from redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) to spark a 5-0 run which eventually evened the score. Fuelling would finish the match with 11 kills and 14 digs for ninth double-double of the season.
Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hillard Bradley) led the Ball State attack with 15 kills, while adding a match-best six block assists. Benson also finished the contest with a .281 (15-6-32) attack percentage.
Senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) also collected double-digit kills in the contest, blasting 13 to go along with a match-best .522 (13-1-23) attack percentage. Marx has now smashed double-digit kills in seven of Ball State’s last nine matches.
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) and sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) combined to set the Ball State offense to a .241 (65-27-158) attack percentage, with Seidel setting most of the first two sets, and Spadafora closing out the second and leading the BSU rally in the final two games.
Senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) led all players with a match-high 19 digs. Overall, the Cardinals defense limited the WMU attack to a .171 (49-25-140) rate of success and held an 11-8 advantage in total blocks.
Rachel Sheffer led the Broncos attack with 12 kills, while Stephenee Yancy added 11. WMU libero Lena Oliver racked up a team-best 15 digs to help Western Michigan out-dig Ball State 58-56.
With Ball State holding a 15-13 edge in the opening set after a five-point rally, Western Michigan made great use of a timeout by halting the Cardinals’ momentum with a five-point run of their own. Ball State would keep within one point, at 20-19, after kills from Marx and Seidel. However the Broncos scored the next four points and went on to win the frame 25-21.
Things looked bleak for the Cardinals as they were trailing 19-14 in the second frame, but Feulling’s kill and ace would spark the hosts as they battled back to even the score. With the score knotted at 21, back-to-back blocks from Benson helped BSU pull ahead 23-21.
The teams would then trade the final four points of the set, with senior opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) smashing kill on both Ball State points to complete the comeback at 25-23.
Western Michigan looked poised to close out the third set, reaching frame-point at 24-21. However, a kill from Benson sparked a three-point Ball State rally to even the score at 24. A kill from Claire Gerwig gave the Broncos one more chance to win the set, but Marx answered with a kill to keep the Ball State alive. WMU then blasted the next two attacks long to allow the Cardinals to win the frame 27-25 and complete another late-set comeback.
Ball State closed out the match with a dominating 25-14 effort in the final frame. The Cardinals scored five of the first six points, before taking an 11-4 edge in a run capped by back-to-back Marx kills. WMU would battle back within three, at 13-10, only to see BSU answer with 12 of the final 16 points to close out the set and the match.