MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State women's volleyball team did its job Saturday evening, ending the 2011 regular season with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-18) victory over visiting St. Louis at Worthen Arena.
"I thought we played an all around solid match," said Ball State head coach Steve Shondell. "We had great contributions from a lot of players on offense, and played really strong on the defensive end. St. Louis is an excellent defensive team and for us to come out and hit .340 for the match says a lot about our focus tonight."
The Cardinals (25-7) now await Sunday's NCAA Tournament Selection Show, which airs at 6 p.m. on ESPNU, to determine if its season will continue in the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
BSU entered the week ranked 36th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings and since the 2003 season no tournament-eligible team with an RPI of 37-or-better has been left out of the NCAA tournament field.
Sophomore outside hitter Whitney Heeres paced the Ball State offense with 10 kills in Saturday's win over St. Louis (15-13), while hitting for a .346 (10-1-26) rate of success. Heeres also added a solo block to cap the first set.
Junior outside hitter Kara Bates added seven kills and a match-high three aces, while sophomore libero Catie Fredrich posted a match-high 14 digs. Bates' third ace of the night ended the second stanza.
BSU's senior middles also posted strong offensive numbers with Jennifer Boyd blasting nine kills and hitting a match-best .438 (9-2-16), while Kelsey Brandl posted eight kills and a .333 (8-3-15) rate of success. Both players also tallied a block, while Brandl added an ace.
Senior setter Brittany McGinnis guided the Ball State offense to a .340 (42-9-97) hitting effort for the contest, dishing out 32 assists, while collecting seven digs. She also scored a solo block and a pair of aces, including an ace on the final point of the night.
Senior defensive specialist Kaylee Schembra ended her final match at Worthen Arena with three digs and an assists, while keeping all 11 of her service attempts in play.
St. Louis' Andrea Beaty led all players with 13 kills in the match, while Grace Bonoma tallied a team-high 10 digs.
The Ball State defense limited the Billikens to a .190 (35-16-100) hitting effort for the night, while holding a 44-37 advantage in digs. BSU also held a 4-3 lead in team blocks and an 8-6 edge in aces.
The Billikens surged ahead early in the first set, scoring five of the first seven points with three different players recording a kill. SLU pushed its lead to four at the 14-10 mark, before a service error and kills from sophomore right side hitter Lauren Grant and Brandl helped the Cardinals tie the score at 14.
Ball State took its first lead of the match at 17-16 off a St. Louis attack error, while a pair of Brandl kills pushed the lead to 19-17. With BSU leading 22-19, Bates blasted back-to-back aces, while a Heeres solo block ended the frame at 25-19.
The teams traded four-point runs to open the second set, while a three-point BSU run followed giving the hosts a 7-4 edge. With St. Louis within one point, at the 13-12 mark, back-to-back Bonoma aces and a kill from Beaty gave the guests their first lead of the set at 15-13.
With SLU maintaining its two-point lead at 17-15, kills from Grant, Brandl and Heeres shifted the momentum back to Ball State and gave the hosts an 18-17 lead. Ball State extended its lead to three points, at 23-20, on a Bates kill, only to see SLU battle back within one at 23-22. However, Bates went on to end the set 25-23 in favor of the Cardinals with a kill and an ace.
While BSU pulled out to a 3-1 lead in the third frame, some strong serving from Ashley Gaillot, including a pair of aces, gave the visitors a 5-3 edge. The Billikens extended its lead to four points, at 10-6, only to see BSU use a kill and an ace to pull within one at 10-9.
St. Louis surged back to a 15-12 lead, only to have three straight Ball State kills even the score at 15. With SLU leading 18-17, a kill from Bates tied the score and gave McGinnis the serve. BSU went on to post the final seven points, winning the match on a McGinnis ace.