MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State women's volleyball team played an inspired final two sets for their seniors Saturday night, claiming a 3-1 (25-23, 17-25, 25-15, 25-16) Mid-American Conference victory over Central Michigan in a senior night celebration at Worthen Arena.
With their 23-6 (12-4 MAC) record, the Cardinals earn the No. 4 seed in next week's MAC Tournament and will battle No. 5 seed Eastern Michigan (21-10/9-7 MAC) in Friday's 11 a.m. quarterfinal match at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
"It was a great match for the seniors," said BSU head coach Steve Shondell. "We wanted to win this match for the seniors who have helped turn the program around the last couple of years. We needed to win it for our team to give us a little bit of momentum going into the MAC Tournament. It would have been difficult to enter the tournament with four consecutive losses after having such a great year."
The Chippewas earned the No. 6 seed with their 15-12 (8-8 MAC) record and will face No. 3 seed Western Michigan (23-7/12-4 MAC) in the 1:30 p.m quarterfinal contest.
Senior setter Brittany McGinnis led the charge in the final two frames, serving up seven aces and guiding the BSU offense to a .361 (29-7-61) rate of success during the span. McGinnis' career-high seven aces tie the Worthen Arena record set by Sharon Knecht versus Western Illinois Nov. 6, 1993.
For the match, McGinnis dished out 42 assists while adding 11 digs for her 10 double-double of the season and the 42nd of her career. She also tallied three kills and a pair of block assists.
In addition to McGinnis' solid all-around effort, senior middle blockers Jennifer Boyd and Kelsey Brandl each blasted double-digit kills in the contest. Boyd tallied 11 to go along with four digs, two blocks and a .333 (11-3-24) hitting mark. Brandl scored 10 kills and hit .474 (10-1-19) with three blocks and an ace.
Senior defensive specialist Kaylee Schembra finished the match with four digs and an assists, while earning a .933 (13-for-14) reception percentage.
Junior transfer outside hitter Kara Bates continued to pace the Ball State offense with a team-high 14 kills. She also collected nine digs and three blocks, including a pair of solo stuffs.
Sophomore outside hitter Kylee Baker added her seventh double-double of the season with 11 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore libero Catie Fredrich added a match-high 16 digs, including nine in the third frame.
Kaitlyn Schultz paced the Central Michigan attack with 15 kills, while Lindsey Dulude added 10. Four Chippewas tied for team-high honors with eight digs apiece.
The Cardinals held a .283 (57-21-127) to .204 (48-20-137) hitting advantage in the match, while out-digging the Chippewas 61-42. BSU also held an 8-5 edge in aces, while CMU scored 10 blocks to the Cardinals' five.
Despite a kill from Bates to open the match, the Chippewas held an early 4-1 edge thanks in part to three blocks. Ball State rallied back with nine of the next 10 points, including three kills from Baker, to pull ahead 10-5. CMU answered back, tying the score at 15 and from there, the teams battled to a 23-23 stalemate. A kill from Boyd gave BSU set point, while a Brandl ace ended the frame at 25-23.
Central Michigan jumped out to another early lead in the second set, playing to an 8-3 edge. The Cardinals battled within two, 11-9, but would get no closer as CMU closed out the set 25-17 on a Lindsey Dulude kill.
The Cardinals responded to CMU's celebrating with a dominating third-set performance, as they scored the first 10 points of the frame and never looked back, winning 25-15 on a Whitney Heeres kill. After a Chippewas service error opened the set, McGinnis blasted aces on four of the next eight points to give BSU control of the set. McGinnis tallied five aces overall in the game, while Fredrich added nine digs.
Ball State carried over the momentum in the fourth frame, scoring the first five points and pulling ahead 9-2. Kills from McGinnis and Brandl gave BSU its first 10-point advantage at 14-4, and from there, the Cardinals cruised to a 25-16 final set win. A kill from Baker gave BSU set-point, while Brandl ended the match with a kill on the final rally.