After knocking off IPFW in the first set 25-7, Ball State seemed poised to run the Mastodons out of Worthen Arena.

IPFW had other plans.

Ball State’s volleyball team needed all five sets to beat IPFW, a win that boosted the team’s record to 3-1 early in the season.

The Cardinals dropped set two 27-25 and the third 28-26 before rallying to win the next two 25-20 and 15-9.

“You see it all the time in volleyball where you win the first set and it serves as a wake-up call for the other team,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said. “You end up fighting for your life because of the adjustments that are made.”

Shondell’s Cardinals jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the fifth set, playing with more energy than shown in the previous sets. After extending the lead to 12-9, Ball State’s Alex Fuelling threw down two kills and a block by Jenna Spadafora and Hayley Benson sealed the win.

Fuelling led Ball State with 24 kills, and was a thorn in IPFW’s side all match.

Making her first appearance at Worthen, Fuelling looked calm and comfortable as she orchestrated Ball State’s offense.

Ball State made quick work of the visiting Mastodons in the first set, jumping out to an 8-1 lead, and extended it to 14-5 off two consecutive kills by Alex Fuelling. Ball State would finish on a 11-2 run, winning 25-7.

“I wasn’t trying to think too much,” Fuelling said. “We knew what would be open and where to attack, so we knew what would be open on the outside.”

IPFW was on its heels during the first set, and was outhit .480 to -.080 in the first set.

Both teams rallied back and forth throughout the second set, with the score never extending past a 3-point advantage for either team. Tied at 25, Ball State’s Lauren Grant hit a spike wide.

Mindy Marx had an attack error that gave IPFW a 27-25 set win.

After having just two kills in the first set, IPFW responded aggressively. They tacked on 14 in the second set, with Emily Spencer leading the way with 5.

Spencer struggled to find open spots in the Ball State defense to attack, one year after landing 21 kills against the Cardinals in just four sets. She finished with 14 on Wednesday.

With IPFW leading 18-16 in the third set, Ball State needed a timeout, and Marx responded with two kills to tie the set at 18. IPFW pulled back out in front a point later, and went on to win the set 28-26.

“You have to give it to IPFW because they’ve got a great team,” Shondell said. “I was just disappointed because I thought we could have won it in three sets tonight.”

Throughout the match, IPFW struggled to beat Ball State’s Kelly Hopkins. The redshirt sophomore’s size gave the Mastodons’ fits, often forcing them to adjust their spikes or risk getting blocked by the 6-foot-3 Hopkins.

“We let up in the second and third sets,” Hopkins said. “We knew we had to find a way to get the energy back in our favor.”

Shondell made a switch after the third set, bringing Spadafora to replace Jacqui Seidel in hopes of rejuvenating the offense.

He said Ball State has two quality setters in Spadafora and Seidel, and has the luxury of being able to go to either if necessary.

Down 11-9 in the fourth set, Ball State needed a momentum-turner to save its chances of getting a win.

Two spikes by Marx later, the set was tied and Ball State had gotten the break it needed.

The team controlled the rest of the match, finishing off the fourth set 25-20.