- - The Ball State women's volleyball team had all the momentum, leading two sets to none and 21-20 in the third. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, as second seed and tournament host Miami rallied behind a very boisterous home crowd to pull out a 3-2 (22-25, 25-27, 25-23, 26-24, 15-5) victory Saturday night in Millett Hall.
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 22-9 on the season. The RedHawks improve to 22-7 and will battle fifth-seeded Eastern Michigan (20-13) for the 2018 MAC Tournament Championship Sunday at 4:30 p.m., with the winner earning the league's automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships.
"Tonight, and all throughout the season, we have played with a ton of passion and competitiveness," head coach Kelli Miller
said. "Tonight, was no different. There was not a moment that I felt like we weren't 100 percent engaged and competing. We followed the game plan and our preparation was good, but at times we just got out-executed."
Despite the loss, the Cardinals had four players finish the contest with double-digit kills led by 15 from redshirt senior middle Meg Starling
. Starling came to play in her final MAC Tournament, finishing Ball State's two matches in the event with 27 total kills and a .434 (27-4-53) attack percentage.
Starling also had a tremendous two days at the net, recording six blocks tonight and eight in Friday's five-set win over Ohio to give her a 1.40 blocks-per-set average for the tournament. For her play over the two days, Starling was also named to the MAC All-Tournament Team.
Junior setter Amber Seaman
also had a strong performance versus Miami, guiding the offense to a .222 (58-20-171) rate of success. She served up four more aces, while adding three digs and a pair of blocks.
In addition to Starling, senior outside attacker Jessica Lindsey
finished the night with 13 kills, one shy of her career high. She came up with some huge kills throughout the match and helped lead a solid effort at the net with three total blocks.
Also scoring double-figure kills for the Cardinals were senior outside attacker Ellie Dunn
and junior middle Sydnee VanBeek
with 12 apiece. Dunn also added 14 kills for her second double-double of the tournament and her 13th of the season, while VanBeek was credited with six total blocks and six digs.
In the backcourt, junior libero Kate Avila
collected a team-high 15 digs to reach double figures for the 60th straight match and the 89th time in her career.
On the other side of the net, Sophie Riemersma led the Miami comeback with 29 kills, 17 digs and six service aces. Gaby Harper paced the RedHawks defense with 18 digs to go along with 17 kills.
"When you do everything you can, and you lay it out on the line, sometimes things just doesn't fall your way and you get beat. But I certainly think this group has made a huge impact on Ball State volleyball and gotten better and better every single match. That is all I can ask for."
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State women's volleyball, follow @BallStateSports, @BallStateWVB and @VBCoachMiller on Twitter.
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