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Women’s Volleyball Drops Five-Set Thriller At CMU
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   MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - - In a hotly contested match which saw four sets go into overtime, the Ball State women's volleyball team suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 (29-31, 25-23, 29-27, 24-26, 17-15) loss to Central Michigan Saturday night at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

   With the loss, the Cardinals end Mid-American Conference play with a 14-15 (7-9 MAC) record, earned the No. 8 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament and will play No. 1 seed Ohio in the 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal match at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.

   Central Michigan finishes league play with a 15-12 (9-7 MAC) record and is the No. 6 seed in the tournament.

   In Saturday's showdown with the Chippewas, junior opposite attacker Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) blasted a career-high 14 kills and tied a season-high with seven total blocks. She also finished the hitting .312 (14-4-32).

   In addition to the strong play of Marx, redshirt freshman middle hitter Kelly Hopkins (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) finished the night with career-highs of seven kills and seven total blocks.

   Senior outside hitter Kara Bates (Bradley, Ill./Bradley Bourbonnais Community/Maryland) and senior middle hitter Lisa Scott (McLean, Va./Langley/Maryland) tied for team-high honors with 16 kills apiece. Bates added eight blocks, including a career-high four solo stuffs, and six digs to her stat line, while Scott finished the night with a match-best nine blocks and a .333 (16-4-36) hitting mark.

   Overall, the Cardinals tallied 20 team blocks, marking the second time this season BSU has recorded at least 20 blocks in a match.

   Freshman outside hitter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) smashed 13 kills and a career-high 18 digs for her second consecutive double-double, while junior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) dished out a career-best 62 assists and tallied 14 digs for her 15th double-double of the year.

   Ball State junior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) led all players with 24 digs, upping her career total to 1,350 which ranks fifth in program history.

   Central Michigan's Kaitlyn McIntyre led all players with 26 kills, while Lindsey Dulude scored 20 and Val DeWeerd added 17. Dulude and Jenna Coates tied for team-high honors with 20 digs.

   BSU's offense finished the night with a .227 hitting mark, while the team's 20 blocks helped limit the Chippewas to a .212 rate of success. Ball State also held an 84-82 advantage in digs.

   Aided by a pair of blocks, the Cardinals pulled out to a 4-1 advantage in the opening set. Central Michigan answered with the next three points to even the score, and from there the teams slugged it out to a 23-23 stalemate.

   A kill from Marx would give the Cardinals the first of three consecutive set points, but CMU answered back each time. The Chippewas would have the next two set points, with the Cardinals responding to the call.

   BSU's fourth set point came at the 29-28 mark off a solo block from Bates, only to be denied again by a kill from CMU's Dulude. However, Bates followed with back-to-back kills to finally close out Ball State's longest set of the season at 31-29. The previous longest set was last night's 30-28 third set victory at Eastern Michigan.

   The teams battled to a 4-4 tie in the second set, before three consecutive CMU errors and a pair of kills from both Marx and Spadafora helped Ball State pull out to a commanding 12-5 lead. The Chippewas countered with the next five points, before eventually tying the score at 14-14.

   From there, the teams battled to a 22-22 deadlock before Dulude posted a kill and solo block to give the hosts set point at 24-22. A service error out of a Ball State timeout would keep the guests alive, but DeWeerd gave CMU the set at 25-23 with a kill on the next rally.

   In another hotly contested set, the Cardinals and Chippewas battled to a 23-23 tie in the third frame, with a CMU attack error giving BSU the first chance to win the set at 24-23. However, an ace and kill from McIntyre turned the tide, giving Central Michigan set point at 25-24.

   Ball State answered with kills from Bates and Marx to earn its second set point at 26-25. However, back-to-back blasts from Dulude moved the score to 27-26 in favor of CMU. Another Marx kill tied the score, but the Chippewas used kills from DeWeerd and Dulude to win the frame 29-27 and take a 2-1 edge in the match.

   Like the first three sets before it, the fourth frame was another back-and-fourth battle with the score deadlocked at 23-23. For the third time, the Cardinals would get the first opportunity to win the set, pulling ahead 24-23 on a CMU service error.

   While a kill from Dulude kept the hosts alive, a Marx marker gave BSU its second consecutive set point. This time, the Cardinals were able to capitalize as Spadafora smashed the ball down the line to give BSU the 26-24 win and force a deciding fifth set.

   With the score of the fifth set knotted at seven, Scott helped tally three consecutive blocks to give the Cardinals a 10-7 lead and force a Central Michigan timeout. Unfortunately, the Chippewas responded with the next four points to pull ahead 11-10 and force a Ball State 75-second break.

   CMU would go on to reach match-point at 14-12, only to have back-to-back attacking errors help Ball State even the score at 14-14. Following a kill from McIntyre to give the Chippewas its third match-point, a solo block from Bates would deny CMU once again. Unfortunately, back-to-back kills from DeWeerd and Dulude ended the set at 17-15 and the match at 3-2 in favor of Central Michigan.

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