TOLEDO, Ohio - - The Ball State women's volleyball team denied three Toledo match points to escape Savage Arena with a 3-2 (25-23, 25-18, 13-25, 21-25, 17-15) victory Thursday evening in a pivotal Mid-American Conference showdown.
"We escaped with a win tonight against a team that played us tough for four of the five sets," said Ball State head coach Steve Shondell. "I give a tremendous amount of credit to Jenna and Mindy for stepping up with the match on the line. Mindy had a huge kill to tie the match late, while Jenna provided several big blasts including the match winner. I was also really pleased with how tough both Catie and Kati played tonight, they were determined to keep us in the match."
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 12-12 (5-6 MAC) and gain a little bit of breathing room over the Rockets (8-16 / 2-9 MAC) for one of the eight slots for the upcoming 2012 MAC Tournament.
BSU entered the week holding the No. 8 slot with six matches remaining. Miami (3-7 MAC) and Kent State (3-7) remain behind the Cardinals, as do Toledo and Buffalo (2-9 MAC) who also lost this evening.
In tonight's battle with the Rockets, four Cardinals finished the match with double-digit kills led by senior outside hitter Kara Bates (Bradley, Ill./Bradley Bourbonnais Community/Maryland) 16 markers.
Junior middle hitter Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven), junior outside hitter Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) and freshman setter/outside Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) hitter each collected 10 kills in the win.
Bates would add 14 digs to collect her ninth kill/dig double-double of the season, while junior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) tallied a match-high 27 digs for her third consecutive match with 20-or-more digs. Freshman defensive specialist Kati Vasalakis (Yorktown, Ind./Yorktown) also turned in a strong effort in the backcourt with a career-high 12 digs.
Junior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) fell one dig shy of a double-double of her own, handing out 53 assists to go along with nine digs. Overall, she ran the Ball State offense to a .188 (63-30-176) hitting mark for the night.
Reigning MAC West Division Co-Defensive Player of the Week senior middle hitter Lisa Scott (McLean, Va./Langley/Maryland) added nine kills and a team-best four total blocks, while also serving up her first career service ace.
Four Toledo players also finished the match with double-digit kills, as Dakota Harkins and Jordan Kielty scored 16 each, while Brooke Frazer and Becca Reidy added 11 apiece. Celina Diaz collected a team-best 25 digs.
Despite losing, Toledo finished the match hitting .255 (69-22-184) and held a 13.0-6.0 edge in total blocks. BSU out-dug Toledo 78-73 and scored eight aces on the night, including three from Grant, compared to none for the Rockets.
The opening set was tight throughout, with the Cardinals and Rockets battling to a 22-22 stalemate. A block from Marx and Seidel would give BSU the next point, while a UT attack error gave the guests set point. Frazer would keep Toledo alive with a kill on the next rally, but Marx followed with a frame-winning blast at 25-23.
A pair of Seidel service aces helped the Cardinals pull out to 4-1 advantage in the second set, while an ace from Grant helped BSU surge ahead 8-2. Ball State would extend its lead to 10 points at the 19-9 mark, before winning the frame 25-18 on a Rockets' attack error.
While a kill and another ace from Grant helped Ball State play to a 3-1 lead in set three, Toledo would answer with a 14-3 run to take control of the stanza at 15-6. The Rockets went on to win the frame 25-13 on a kill from Frazer.
Toledo carried over the momentum to open the fourth game, building a 5-1 lead. However, a kill and ace from freshman Spadafora helped BSU even the set at 5-5. BSU would eventually play to a 14-10 advantage, only to see the hosts battle back and tie the score at 14.
The Rockets followed with seven of the next 10 points, moving ahead 21-17, only to have Ball State battle its way back within one at 22-21 on a UT ball handling error. Unfortunately, BSU could not hold onto the momentum following a Toledo timeout, as the hosts scored the final three points of the set to win 25-21.
The teams traded blows early in the fifth set, battling to a 6-6 deadlock. When a kill from Spadafora gave BSU a one-point edge at 7-6, the Rockets responded with three straight markers to force a Cardinals' timeout at 9-7.
Toledo looked poised to win the set with a 13-10 lead, but Ball State battled back thanks in part to kills from Marx, Bates and Spadafora to tie the score at 14-14. A kill from Parys would give the hosts one more chance to win the set up 15-14, but the Cardinals managed to escape with the set (17-15) and match (3-2) victory thanks to consecutive kills from Marx, Scott and Spadafora.The Ball State women's volleyball team returns to action Saturday, when it travels to Buffalo for a 7:30 p.m. first serve against the Bulls.