DEKALB, Ill. - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team used a dominating offensive performance to post a 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-21) sweep of Northern Illinois Friday night at Victor E Court.
Three Cardinals finished the match will 11 kills, while the offense as a whole blasted 52 to raise the team’s season average to 14.72 per set which ranks in the top eight nationally. The Ball State offense also connected for a .307 (52-17-114) rate of success for the match.
With the win, Ball State improved to 23-7 (11-4 Mid-American Conference) and will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. A victory tomorrow at Western Michigan would give the Cardinals the third seed, while a loss and a Bowling Green win at Buffalo would give BSU the fourth seed.
West Division leader Toledo pulled out a five-set win at Western Michigan tonight to improve to 12-3 in league action and secure the No. 2 seed in the upcoming league tournament as it holds the tiebreaker over the Cardinals. Ohio secured the No. 1 seed Thursday with a victory over Kent State.
Senior opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) was one of three Cardinals to notch 11 kills in the win over the Huskies, including three consecutive kills to end the match. She also hit for a .556 (11-1-18) rate of success, while adding a dig and a block assist.
Senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) paced all players with a .588 (11-1-17) attack percentage to go along with her 11 kills, while also serving up a pair of aces.
Rounding out Ball State’s double-digit attackers was sophomore setter/outside hitter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll). In another out-of-position start, Spadafora sparked the Ball State offense early with nine kills through the first two sets. She also tallied four digs in the match.
Senior outside hitter Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) led the all players with a match-best 14 digs, while adding seven kills and three service aces. Redshirt freshman Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) posted a match-best four total blocks to go along with nine kills and three digs.
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) dished out 45 assists in the contest, while running the BSU offense to a .307 (52-17-114) rate of success.
Mackenzie Roddy paced the Northern Illinois (17-12/9-6 MAC) attack with 10 kills, while tying for team-high honors with 10 digs. As a team, the Ball State defense limited the NIU attack to a .188 (33-14-101) attack percentage.
After a slow start, which saw six Ball State errors help give the Huskies an 8-4 edge, the Cardinals came to life behind a Fuelling kill to score seven of the next nine points and pull ahead 11-10. With Ball State leading by one at the 17-16 mark, a kill from Benson and two blasts from Spadafora helped BSU post the next four points and force NIU to use both its timeouts.
Northern Illinois answered with a three-point run of its own following the second timeout, to pull within two at 21-19. However, another Benson blast gave the momentum back to the Cardinals as they rallied off the final four points of the set. Marx provided the set-winning kill at 25-19.
With the Cardinals trailing 9-8 in the second set, a kill from Spadafora evened the score and sent senior outside Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) to the service line. Baker promptly dropped in an ace off the net tape and led the Cardinals on a 3-0 run. After an NIU point, Marx sent herself to the service line with a kill, and then served up a pair of aces to help Ball state pull ahead 17-10 and force NIU to once again call both its timeouts.
Following Northern Illinois second timeout, the Ball State block came to life with four stuffs over the next eight points to give Ball State a 22-13 edge. A Marx smash to the Victor E. Court hardwood would give BSU set point, at 24-15, while a Spadafora blast ended the set at 25-17.
The Huskies were able to pull out to a 7-5 lead in the third set, only to have Ball State rattle off six straight points and take an 11-7 lead. Fuelling started the rally with a kill, and after three straight NIU attack errors, capped the run with back-to-back service aces.
With the Cardinals leading by four, at 13-9, back-to-back kills from Spadafora extended the Ball State edge to six. The Huskies would charge back and even the score at 17, however the tie was short-lived as two consecutive kills from Benson shifted the momentum back to Ball State.
The Cardinals looked ready to cruise to the third-set victory after another Benson kill made the score 22-18. However, the Huskies would battle back within one, at 22-21, and force BSU’s second timeout of the frame. Grant would not let NIU complete the comeback, however, as she smashed three consecutive kills to end the frame 25-21 and the match 3-0.
The Ball State women’s volleyball team closes out the 2013 regular season Saturday, with a 7 p.m. first serve at Western Michigan.