MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team became the first Mid-American Conference program to reach the 20-win mark this season with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23) victory over Miami Saturday night at Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals, who are now 20-5 on the year, also improved to 8-2 in league play and remain tied with Ohio, who topped Western Michigan in five tonight, for first place in the MAC regular season title race. Bowling Green, which entered the day tied with the Ball State and Ohio, suffered a 3-1 loss at Toledo to fall to 7-3 in league action.
In tonight’s win over the RedHawks, Ball State used a balance offensive attack to wear down the Miami defense as four Cardinals finished the match with double-digit kills.
Leading the Cardinals in scoring was senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) who racked up a career-high tying 16 kills and added a match-best eight total blocks (two solo and six assists) to lead all players with 21 points. Marx also connected for a match-best .519 (16-2-27) attack percentage.
Senior opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) also turned in a solid offensive performance with 16 kills, falling one shy of her career high which she set last night versus BGSU. Grant also finished the match with five block assists.
Senior outside Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) tallied her second double-double of the weekend, and fifth of the season, with 12 kills and 14 digs.
Rounding out Ball State’s top attackers was redshirt sophomore Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) who pounded out 14 kills while hitting .429 (14-2-28). Benson also tallied three block assists.
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) led the Ball State offense to a .251 (67-23-175) attack percentage by dishing out 60 assists which is two shy of her career high. She also tallied nine digs and three kills.
In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) led all players with a season-high 27 digs.
In racking up 11.0 total blocks and 81 digs, the Ball State defense limited the Miami (10-12/2-8 MAC) attack to just a .176 (52-23-165) rate of success. Annie Reiswig led the RedHawks with 13 kills, while Madison Hardy collected a team-best 16 digs.
In the opening set, the Cardinals used kills from Grant and Benson to score the first two points of the match and take the lead for good. With Ball State leading 20-17, Miami would draw within one on a Jenny Ingle kill and a BSU attack error, only to see a Baker blast shift the momentum back to the Cardinals.
After a Miami error forced a timeout at 22-19, three straight blocks from Grand and Marx ended the frame at 25-19.
After the teams traded the first four points of the second stanza, back-to-back BSU blocks sparked a 6-0 run to give the Cardinals control of the frame at 8-2. Miami would get as close as one, at 15-14, only to see Ball State regain control with the next three points. With BSU holding a 23-19 edge, back-to-back kills from Benson closed out the set at 25-19.
With Ball State leading 15-12 in the third set, the RedHawks would go on an 8-1 run to pull ahead 20-16. The Cardinals rallied back within one, at 24-23, after a kill from Marx, only to see a service error end the frame on the next rally.
In the closest set of the night, the teams battled to a 21-21 stalemate in the fourth set. Kills from Grant and Baker would give Ball State the next two points and force a Miami timeout at 23-21. After a kill from Miami’s Ingle, a Marx blast gave BSU its first match-point at 24-22. The RedHawks were able to stay alive with a kill from Reiswig, only to have Marx blast the match-ending kill at 25-23.
The Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to action Friday, when it opens its final home weekend with a 7 p.m. match versus Central Michigan. The Cardinals will host senior night the following night with a 7 p.m. first serve versus Eastern Michigan.