AKRON, Ohio - - Despite dominating the third set and a furious rally in the fourth, the Ball State women’s volleyball team suffered a 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 9-25, 26-24) setback at Mid-American Conference East Division foe Akron Saturday evening at Rhodes Arena.
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 22-7 (10-4 MAC) and are now second in the race for the MAC West Division crown. The Zips, who picked up their second consecutive league victory, improve to 8-17 (2-12 MAC).
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) led the Ball State attack, posting 15 kills to go along with 14 digs for her 14th double-double of the season. She also served up a pair of aces.
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) also tallied a double-double in the contest, her 11th of the year, with 20 assists and 11 digs. Seidel set the Ball State offense to a .429 (14-2-28) rate of success in the 25-9 third set victory. The Cardinals finished the match hitting .209 (54-21-158) with Seidel setting the final two frames.
In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) recorded a match-best 24 digs, marking her 11th 20-plus dig effort this season. She also raised her career dig total to 1,887 and is looking to become just the third player in program history to reach the 2,000 dig mark.
Alex Cocklin paced the Akron attack with 18 kills, while Jill Paluch posted a team-best 20 digs. Overall, the Zips offense connected for a .218 (55-17-156) rate of success.
Akron scored the first two points of the opening set, and would never trail. Ball State would remain within two, at 12-10, before a three-point run gave the Zips a 15-10 edge. Senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) blasted a kill out of a timeout to stop the run, but Akron would not be swayed as it won the frame 25-17.
Akron scored the first four points of the second frame, and once again never trailed. Ball State would draw within two, at 7-5, and keep the score within three at 19-16. However, a four-point Zips run allowed the hosts to pull away as they won the set 25-19.
The Cardinals looked determined to turn the match around in the third frame, scoring the first three points and pulling ahead 9-1. Ball State took a 10-point lead at the 14-4 mark, thanks to a block from Seidel and Marx, before winning the frame 25-9 on a blast from sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll).
Things looked bleak for the Cardinals as they trailed 22-15 in the fourth set, but another kill from Spadafora sparked a furious Ball State rally which eventually evened the score at 22. Moments later, a Fuelling kill would give the Cardinals a chance to force a fifth frame at 24-23.
Unfortunately, a kill from Kelsey Wilson and back-to-back blast from Cocklin allowed the Zips to win the frame 26-24 and the match 3-1.The Ball State women’s volleyball team closes out the 2013 regular season next weekend, with matches at Northern Illinois (Friday, 8 p.m. ET) and Western Michigan (Saturday, 7 p.m.).