WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State avoids letdown against Kent State
Cardinals beat Golden Flashes despite difficult strategy
One night after toppling Ohio, Ball State seemed like as easy pick to be the victim of an upset in a letdown match. But the opposite happened as Ball State rolled by Kent State in four sets Saturday.
Ball State won 25-14, 14-25, 25-15, 25-20.
"We really wanted to focus and show that we can win the second match in a weekend," junior middle blocker Kelsey Brandl said. "We have come out flat after winning the first night and haven't taken care of business in the second match most of the year."
Quick serving was the weapon Kent State was most effectively able utilize against Ball State. It knocked the Cardinals on their heels, and frustrated players and coaches alike.
"In 35 years of coaching I've never seen a quick set, no huddle style offense," coach Steve Shondell said. "It totally blindsided me and knocked us out of rhythm. I'm glad they did it in the second set and gave us the opportunity to talk it over before the third set."
Freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker, a Kent State recruit in high school, was familiar with the tactic. She had seen it done before. Despite seeing the quick serves, Baker still wasn't prepared.
Baker was taken aback by how much it affects a team. Even the experienced players weren't sure how to handle the quick serves.
"It took us a few points too many to figure out how to respond to it," Baker said. "The break between sets gave us the breather we needed."
Even after knocking Ball State on its heels, Kent State wasn't able to capitalize on its opportunity. The Cardinals responded by dominating the third set, getting production from the front line.
Freshman outside hitter Whitney Heeres led all attackers with 17 kills. Brandl added 12 and Baker chipped in 11 kills.
"We really wanted it tonight," Heeres said. "This is a very big win for us. We're playing for the seniors and this helps separate us out from other teams in the MAC as we reach the second half of the MAC schedule."
The focus of Ball State wasn't just seen offensively. The defense came up big with six blocks while the backcourt came up with 69 digs.
Senior libero Alyssa Rio recorded 19 digs to lead all competitors. Freshman defensive specialist Catie Fredrich had 17 while senior Hannah Sullivan added 11. Baker finished with 11 digs, recording her fourth career double-double.
"It was a super win coming off a monumental victory over Ohio last night," Shondell said. "We were concerned about a letdown, but the team responded in a positive way and came to play tonight."