KALAMAZOO, Mich. - - The Ball State women’s volleyball team clinched a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title and the No. 3 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament with a 3-1 (25-21, 28-26, 23-25, 25-17) victory at Western Michigan Saturday.
In improving to 24-7 (12-4 MAC), the Cardinals used another dominating offensive effort as five players blasted double-digit kills to lift Ball State to its first win on the Broncos (16-13 / 9-7 MAC) home court since the 2006 season.
In other league action, Toledo (12-4 MAC) was swept at Northern Illinois (10-6 MAC) which helped give the Cardinals a share of the MAC West Division title.
Ball State returns to action Friday, when it takes on No. 6 seed Western Michigan in the 7 p.m. quarterfinal match of the 2013 MAC Tournament at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
Leading the Ball State attack in Saturday’s win over Western Michigan was senior middle Mindy Marx (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) with a career-high and match-best 19 kills. Marx, who tied for match-high honors with six blocks, finished the match hitting .531 (19-2-32).
Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) finished the match with 16 kills, one shy of her career high, and added five block assists while hitting .414 (16-4-29).
Redshirt sophomore outside Alex Fuelling (Decatur, Ind./Bellmont/Morehead State) collected her 15th double-double of the season with 12 kills and 15 digs.
Sophomore setter/outside hitter Jenna Spadafora (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) celebrated her 20th birthday with 12 kills, including the match-winner.
Rounding out Ball State’s double-digit attackers was senior opposite Lauren Grant (Eagan, Minn./Eastview/Cincinnati) with 10 kills. She also tied for match-high honors with six total blocks.
In leading the Ball State offense to 71 total kills and a .263 (71-26-171) attack percentage, senior setter Jacqui Seidel (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) fell one assist shy of her career-high total with 63, which are a BSU rally scoring era record for assists in a four-set match. She also tallied 12 digs for her 12th double-double of the year.
In the backcourt, senior outside Kylee Baker (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) recorded 11 digs to become just the 15th player in program history to reach 1,000 career digs at 1,001.
Ball State senior libero Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls) led all players with 20 digs in the contest, upping her career total to 1,919.
Gillian Asque led the Western Michigan attack with 13 kills, while Lena Oliver paced the Broncos backcourt with 19 digs. As a team, WMU finished the contest hitting .179 (50-22-156).
The Cardinals found themselves trailing 17-14 in the opening set before Grant registered a pair of kills and a block assist to even the score at 17 and force a WMU timeout. Ball State would take is first lead of the set three rallies later as a kill from Spadafora pushed the score to 19-18.
With the frame deadlocked at 20, three kills from Spadafora over the next five rallies helped give Ball State set-point at 24-21. Following Spadafora’s final kill of the run, a WMU attack error secured the 25-21 opening set win for the Cardinals.
Much like the first set, the Cardinals fell behind 16-13 midway through the second frame, only to rally back and even the score at 16 thanks in part to kills from Fuelling and Spadafora. From there, the teams would battle to a 23-23 stalemate before Grant deposited a kill to give Ball State its first set point.
WMU answered with a kill of its own from Alysia Baznik, tying the score at 25, only to have Grant give Ball State two more set points which were also answered by the Broncos. With Grant in the backrow, the Cardinals turned to Marx who gave Ball State its fourth set point with her fourth kill of the frame. Fuelling would finally end the frame on the next rally, blasting the ball of the top of the WMU block to give BSU the 28-26 second-set victory.
Trailing 16-13 in the third set, the Cardinals once again rallied back to even the score, using a pair of blocks from Benson and a WMU attack error to knot the score at 16. The Broncos would reclaim their three-point advantage, however, at the 23-20 mark.
Once again, Ball State answered with a three-point run, as kills from Marx and Fuelling helped even the score at 23. Unfortunately, the Cardinals could not break through to end the match, as back-to-back blasts from Baznik closed the set at 25-23 and forced a fourth frame.
With the score of the fifth set tied at 5-5, Benson blasted a kill and Seidel served up an ace to give Ball State a 7-5 edge and the momentum. The Cardinals ran their lead to nine points, at 19-10, on a block from Seidel and Marx, before winning the frame 25-17 on a kill from Spadafora.