MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team celebrated senior night with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-16) sweep of Mid-American Conference West Division foe Eastern Michigan Saturday night at Worthen Arena.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 22-5 on the season and remain atop the league standings with a 10-2 MAC mark. MAC East Division leader Ohio also improved to 10-2 in conference action with a 3-1 win over Buffalo tonight.
Defense was the name of the game Saturday, as Ball State averaged 29.3 digs per set compared to 27 digs per set for Eastern Michigan (14-13/4-8 MAC). Four Cardinals finished the match with double-digit digs, while two Eagles tallied over 20 digs.
In her final Saturday match at Worthen Arena, senior outside hitter Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) paced all players with 11 kills, while tying a season-high with 22 digs for her sixth double-double of the season.
With the 11 kills, Baker raised her career kill total to 803 to move into a tie for 19th on Ball State’s all-time career kills list. Her 22 digs raised her career total to 963, leaving her 37 shy of becoming the 15th player in program history to tally 1,000 career digs.
Senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) guided the Ball State offense to a .230 (45-11-148) hitting effort for the match, handing out 36 assists and collecting 13 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. She also tied for match-high honors with five total blocks.
Senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) also tallied five blocks (two solo and three assists) for the Cardinals, while blasting eight kills and hitting .333 (8-1-21). She also tied a career-high with four digs.
Senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) tied for match-high honors with 25 digs, raising her career total to 1,842. The effort also marked the 30th time she has collected 20-or-more digs in a match.
Rounding out Ball State’s senior class was opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) with four kills and a dig.
Also making strong contributions on offense for Ball State were redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) and sophomore setter/outside hitter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) with nine kills apices. Benson finished the match hitting .429 (9-0-21), while Spadafora connected for a .280 (9-2-25) rate of success.
Freshman defensive specialist Nikki Box (Yorktown, Ind./Yorktown) added 11 digs and her first career kill in the victory.
Erin Short led the Eastern Michigan offense with seven kills, while setter Jill Briner tied for match-high honors with 25 digs. Overall, the Ball State defense limited the Eagles to a .039 (31-25-152) efficiency mark on offense.
Benson got the match started for the Cardinals with a kill, while back-to-back blasts from Spadafora helped BSU pull ahead 5-1. Eastern Michigan would battle back within one point, at 10-9, only to see kills from Baker and Benson help Ball State rattle off three straight to force an EMU timeout at 13-9.
Eastern Michigan scored the next three points out of the break, only to have Ball State answer with the match’s third consecutive three-point run sparked by a back row kill from Box who blasted the ball through three EMU blockers. The Cardinals controlled play from there, winning the frame 25-17 on a Briner setting error.
With the score of the second set tied at 2-2, a kill from Spadafora and a strong service run from sophomore defensive specialist Kati Vasalakis (Yorktown, Ind./Yorktown) helped Ball State pull ahead 9-2. Ball State held an 11-point advantage at the 16-5 mark, only to see the Eagles battle back within three at 18-15.
Eastern Michigan would get no closer, however, as kills from Spadafora and Baker stopped the EMU run and extended BSU’s lead back to five at 20-15. Ball State would go on to win the set 25-19 on a kill from Benson.
Ball State trailed for the first time all weekend after EMU scored the first point in the third set, but back-to-back Eagles errors followed, giving BSU a 2-1 edge. Ball State proceeded to pull ahead 7-3 from there. EMU would remain within three points, at the 18-15 mark, only to see the Cardinals score seven of the match’s final eight points, winning he set 25-16 on a kill from Baker.The Ball State women’s volleyball team closes out the home portion of its 2013 schedule Thursday, with a 7 p.m. showdown versus Toledo. The Rockets enter the match in second place in the MAC West Division with a 9-3 league mark, including a 3-1 win over the Cardinals Oct. 3.