WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Defense carries Cardinals to sweep
The Daily News
There were hard spikes, soft taps over the net, swerving and curving serves, it didn’t matter.
Nearly every attack was met with a response whether it was a block or dig.
Ball State knocked off Eastern Michigan in three sets, at times making defense look effortless as its opponents tried everything to force Ball State out of position.
“It’s one thing to play defense like that in practice but it’s another to actually execute it under the lights,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said. “I was really pleased with our defense tonight.”
Fans may have wondered if there were magnets in Catie Fredrich's hands along with inside the volleyball.
The Ball State senior was everywhere the Eastern Michigan outside attackers wanted to put the ball.
“She [Fredrich] was just like a rock tonight,” Shondell said. “Passing, serving, defense, it was the whole package from her.”
Being a defensive specialist, Fredrich is used to diving and sprawling, keeping plays alive and shunning opposing kills.
Friday night, she wasn’t just controlling her team’s defense, at times it seemed like she was dictating the Eastern Michigan offense.
Although it’s a team sport and defense requires contributions from everyone, Fredrich was clearly leading the resistance.
“We have a lot of strong defenders back there and they all show up to do their jobs,” Fredrich said. “We’ll always come to play.”
Eastern Michigan finished with only 20 kills in the three sets, and hit for just .047.
By preventing spikes from turning into kills, the only way to lose points is by making errors on offense.
If a team plays solid defense, it can command the entire game.
Fredrich was the mastermind behind the Cardinals defensive performance, always seeming to know exactly where the ball would end up before it even left the attacker’s hand.
The defense stifling opponents is becoming a reoccurring theme for Ball State this season.
Over the 10 match win streak, Ball State has had 18 sets in which it kept teams at 17 points or lower.
“If you keep the ball off the court, you’ll have chance,” Shondell said. “When you find ways to keep the ball alive, you’re going to stay in matches.”
Shondell’s team did exactly that, digging 65 balls, nearly double what the Eagles did.
Ball State’s offense scored more points for Eastern Michigan’s own offense.
The Cardinals tallied 26 attack errors, six higher than the total kills the Eagles had. The struggles on offense were offset by the defense, and made the first two matches seem even more lopsided.
Trailing 9-2 in the third set, Ball State’s defensive intensity brought the team back, and ultimately pushed them to the final victory.
With a 1-0 record now in the MAC, Shondell said it’s great that his team was able to overcome the adversity witnessed in the third set and hit the ground running.
Hit the ground.
Fredrich probably wouldn’t have let that happen.