WOMENâ€™S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State knocks off IUPUI
They played a lot taller than that in their defeat of IUPUI on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals knocked off the Jaguars 3-0, winning 25-21, 25-15, and 25-23.
Tied at seven in the first set, IUPUI went on a 5-1 run to take a 12-8 lead, forcing a timeout from Ball State head coach Steve Shondell. His team responded with a 6-2 run to tie the game, capped off with a kill from Mackenzie Kitchel.
The kill sparked Kitchel, who connected on another spike and then blocked an attack to give Ball State an 18-16 lead, which Ball State wouldn’t relinquish.
IUPUI was constantly forced to change spikes into soft taps over the net in order to get around Ball State’s height. Kitchel was involved in many of the plays, and recorded a block in the first set.
“Our size helped us and it was a main focus for us tonight,” Kitchel said. “It’s something we worked on a lot in practice yesterday and we were pretty strong today.”
Despite the low block total, Kitchel had a number of deflections that allowed Ball State to set up easy sets for points.
Deflections help spur offense because it means the team isn’t focusing on digging a spike. Because the deflections move slower, it allows the offense more time to set up and establish a stronger attack.
As Ball State started interfering with the IUPUI attacks, the visitors became more passive and their spiking saw a dramatic decrease.
“As the match wore on, our blocking really stood out and started getting into the Jaguars heads,” Shondell said. “I think it really intimidated them [IUPUI] tonight.”
Leading 12-9 in the second set, Ball State took advantage of a service error to gain possession and momentum. After a spike was deflected by Ball State’s blockers Alex Fuelling, Mindy Marx and Kitchel contributed kills to help extend the lead to 16-11.
Every bounce went the Cardinals’ way, including a serve from Catie Fredrich that kissed the top of the net, and landed harmlessly on the Jaguars’ side.
Just seconds later, Marx dove and tapped a weak desperation return over the net, where there were no IUPUI players around to return.
The final kill of the match was predictably set up after Ball State’s blockers deflected a IUPUI attack, allowing Marx to set up for the last point.
“We were for sure getting into their heads,” Kitchel said. “They started tipping a lot and that helped us a lot because it lets our offense take over.”
Ball State had three solo blocks and six block assists throughout the match, constantly in its opponents face and never letting up with defensive pressure.
Tied at eight in the third set, Shondell called a timeout that rallied Ball State. Kills from Hayley Benson and Fuelling gave Ball State a two point lead and was extended off a block by Kelly Hopkins.
IUPUI wasn’t finished, going on a 3-0 run to tie the game at 13.
Ball State took the lead back in a way that didn’t surprise anyone. A deflected spike from Ball State’s blockers led to a kill from Marx, and Ball State never looked back.
Leading 24-23 and the game on the line, Fuelling sized up a set and slammed it down, ending IUPUI’s hopes for a comeback.
“I was really pleased with Kitchel’s blocking,” Shondell said. “She blocked some balls early in the match that really helped turn the early sets around.”
The freshman’s size, blocking and offensive prowess allowed Ball State to dictate each set and prevented IUPUI from ever gaining momentum for more than a couple of minutes.
“Once you’re in an attackers head, you notice they’ll start taking shots differently,” Shondell said. “Sometimes errors will come when they change their shot.”
The presence Ball State’s blockers had throughout the match clearly affected IUPUI’s gameplan. The Jaguars came out trying to force the ball straight into the heart of the defense, but was unsuccessful after several attacks were rejected or deflected, leading to Cardinal points.
IUPUI began tapping balls over the reach of the blockers, but Fredrich and Fuelling were usually waiting to recover the tips and set up chances for the offensive opportunity.
Kitchel finished with a team-high 17 kills in just three sets, a tall order for a freshman appearing in just her second home match.
Tuesday night, everything about Ball State was tall.
EARLIER: Ball State improved its record to 9-3 after beating IUPUI in straight sets.
The Cardinals trailed in the first set 8-12, but went on a 13-6 run to take a 21-18 lead before finishing off the Jaguars in the first set.
Alex Fuelling led the team in kills during the first set with 6, with Hayley Benson right behind her with five.
Ball State controlled the second set, jumping out to a 12-6 lead and never looking back.
Mackenzie Kitchel led the Cardinals in kills with 17 kills.
Ball State won the final set 25-23, with Alex Fuelling finishing the match off with a spike.
It was Ball State’s fifth win against IUPUI in the last five years.