Daniel Sipocz

Things looked bleak for Ball State. Playing their third match in less than 24 hours against second high quality opponent Ball State lost the first two sets against Appalachian State (9-3) before rallying back to complete an unlikely and impressive comeback to win in five sets.

The 22-25, 12-25, 25-17, 25-22, 15-9 win clinched a second-place finish in the Tar Heel Classic, behind  host North Carolina. It also improved Ball State's record to 10-2 with Mid-American Conference play beginning next week.

It was also the first time since 2003 that Ball State has come from two sets down to win a match.

"We played our best match of the weekend against Appalachian State," coach Steve Shondell said. "I thought Saturday night's match was a positive step toward becoming a team that can contend for the whole thing in MAC. It's going to be wide open when we get into that."

Early on it didn't look like the Cardinals would get to a fourth set, let alone the fifth set. In an ugly second set 25-12 beat down Ball State had only five kills to nine attack errors. Appalachian State pounded the ball down with a .357 success rate en route to a commanding two sets to none advantage.

Shondell said the block took a toll on the Ball State offense and interrupted the flow. Freshman setter Jacqui Seidel replaced junior setter Brittany McGinnis at intermission to get a stronger presence at the net. After the break Ball State refused to go away quietly, taking the third set with a decisive 25-17 win.

"It's a different role for me coming off the bench," Seidel said. "If it helps get a kick start of energy in there I'm going to do it. Hopefully I can continue to bring confidence and positive energy out there."

A tight 25-22 fourth set win forced the final set. Ball State began the set with a perfect hitting percentage, putting away five balls on five attacks. The Cardinals sustained effective offense, finishing with nine kills on 18 attacks, to clinch the match.

"We weren't done with that game and wanted to go out with another win," junior middle blocker and outside hitter Jennifer Boyd said. "We were a little down because we weren't playing up to our full potential, but even with that we really wanted to change that and take our whole shot at them."

The five-set victory is the second in a week by Ball State who beat IPFW on Tuesday.

Freshman outside hitter Whitney Heeres completed a strong weekend with 15 kills against Appalachian State. Boyd also recorded 15 kills in the win. Junior middle blocker Kelsey Brandl added 12 kills while freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker chipped in eight.

Senior libero Alyssa Rio continued her outstanding senior season with 22 more digs against Appalachian State to lead the Ball State defense. Freshman defensive specialist added 12 digs while Baker flashed her defensive skills with 12 digs of her own.

Kelly Rhein finished with 17 kills to lead Appalachian State.

Ball State begins MAC play Friday at Northern Illinois.

For more on the weekend's matches read Monday's edition of The Ball State Daily News.