KENT, Ohio - - Trailing 24-20 and poised to go down 2-1 in the match, the Ball State women's volleyball team mounted a furious third-set comeback to stun Kent State and in what proved to be a 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 27-25, 25-10) victory Friday evening at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center.
The Cardinals improve to 18-4 overall and 6-1 Mid-American Conference with the win and are tied with Saturday's opponent Ohio for first place in the league standings. First serve for tomorrow's battle for the top spot in the MAC is set for 7 p.m. at Ohio's Convocation Center.
Three Ball State players finished the match with double-digit kills, with redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) and senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) tying for match-high honors with 15 kills apiece.
In addition to her 15 kills, Fuelling added a career-high 19 digs to finish the match with her third consecutive double-double. She also added three total blocks. Marx connected for a .583 (15-1-24) attacking percentage in the contest and added a team-high four block assists.
Senior outside Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) added 11 markers in the contest, and tallied a double-double of her own with 10 digs. She also hit for a season-best .417 (11-1-24) rate of success.
Sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) and senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) combined to lead the Ball State offense to a .283 (62-17-159) attack percentage for the match. Seidel would set the final two sets, including leading the BSU offense to a .500 (18-2-32) effort in the final frame.
Liz Reikow led the Kent State (10-10 / 4-3 MAC) attack with 13 kills, while Hannah Herc tallied a match-best 22 digs. Overall, the Ball State defense held the Golden Flashes to a .218 (51-20-142) attack percentage.
The teams battled to a 20-20 stalemate in the opening set before a blast from Baker and a BSU block moved the score to 22-20. Following a kill from Kent State's Bridget Wilhelm, a blast from Marx and a solo stuff from redshirt freshman Mackenzie Kitchel (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove/Cincinnati) gave Ball State set point.
Kent State would call timeout to try and stop the Cardinals' momentum, only to see Kitchel answer with a frame-winning kill at 25-21.
The score of the second stanza was tied at 12-12 until back-to-back blasts from Bianca Cifaldi gave the hosts a lead they would not relinquish. Kent State went on to win the frame 25-19.
Ball State looked poised to fall behind 2-1 in the match trailing 24-20 in the third set, however, back-to-back kills from Marx and two straight markers from Fuelling evened the score at 24. A kill from Kelly Hutchison would give KSU one more swing at the set, but Fuelling answered with her third kill in four points. Baker closed out the set for the Cardinals, at 27-25, with back-to-back blasts of her own.
The late third set rally took the wind out of Kent State, as the Cardinals jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the fourth frame. BSU extended its advantage to 10 points at the 15-5 mark, before ending the set at 25-10 on another Baker smash to the hardwood floor.