WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Improved offense helps Ball State sweep Central Michigan
The Daily News
The Ball State head coach may be rethinking that after his team’s victory at Central Michigan.
No one would be able to blame him after watching the offense, led by Hayley Benson who lived up to her nickname of Tiger.
“She just keeps getting better and better and she set the tone early on,” Shondell said. “She was blasting balls early was a real force at the net.”
Ball State’s attack was focused against Central Michigan, finding holes in the defense with ease in route to its eleventh straight win, this one in straight sets.
Benson finished with 11 kills, hitting .412 throughout the match. She ended the first set with seven kills on seven attempts, bringing momentum to her team that it would use to propel them through the rest of the set and also the match.
After her hot start, Central Michigan began focusing its defense on her, allowing other Ball State players to attack.
Alex Fuelling reaped the benefits, amassing nine kills in the final two sets after recording just two in the initial set.
“When I’m playing well, it opens up all the other options,” Benson said. “The middle blocker will start keying on me whichleaves it wide open for the outside and the right side to get clean, open shots.”
Against the Chippawas, the Cardinals didn’t look like a team that had committed 27 errors just 24 hours earlier.
Instead, it was a focused bunch that played a lot better than the .203 attack percentage indicates.
The look on Shondell’s face said it all. After a number of deadly spikes were resurrected by the Central Michigan defense,Shondell looked stunned, sometimes incredulous, that the spike hadn’t found the ground.
Even with the Chippawas defense doing everything it could to keep its team in the match, Ball State simply brought too much offense.
“Tonight we attacked the ball with more authority and ran our offense a lot better,” Shondell said. “When we control the ball as well as we did tonight, our offense is very difficult to stop.”
When Ball State’s offense has found a groove, the play looks smooth and calculated. Spikes aren’t deflected by the blockers and don’t ricochet off the defensive specialists arms. They crash to the floor with the defenders looking at each other trying to figure out who was to blame for the kill.
It isn’t usually one player carrying the load when Ball State has success, although Benson led the charge Saturday night. Fuelling added 11 kills while Lauren Grant and Mindy Marx both contributed seven.
It would be easy for Benson to accept credit for powering the offense after how the first match went, but she deferred to her teammates.
A game where all players must be synchronized in order to be effective, Benson wasn’t the only player who impacted the game.
“Alex [Fuelling] had great swings and came through when we needed it,” Benson said. “Lauren Grant played really well and Catie Fredrich had a lot of amazing digs in the back row.”
Regradless of who was getting the kills, the offense overshadowed the defense Saturday.
Maybe defense wins championships isn’t correct after all.