Senior opposite hitter Lauren Grant and sophomore middle hitter Hayley Benson jump up to block a hit against Bowling Green State University on Oct. 25 at Worthen Arena. Ball State lost the match 3-1. DN PHOTO MATT McKINNEY
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State knocks off Miami 3-1
Varied is one word that could be used to describe Ball State’s offense against Miami University.
Another would be inconsistent.
Four Cardinals finished with at least 12 kills against the
RedHawks in a 3-1 win over the visitors.
Lauren Grant and Mindy Marx led the way with 16 kills each, although none of them came easy as it took them 62 attack attempts to get there. The Miami defense stood tall, deflecting and digging most of Ball State’s attacks.
Without Alex Fuelling and Mackenzie Kitchel, both injured, Ball State’s offense looked more focused and prepared than in Friday night’s loss to Bowling Green State University. It didn’t change the fact that serious firepower had been lost from the lineup, and the team struggled to replace it during stretches in every set.
Ball State wanted to get Hayley Benson, Marx and Grant going early, said Kylee Baker. She said the goal was not give too much work to the outside hitters, which included Jenna Spadafora.
Spadafora spent time last season at outside hitter due to team injuries, but she has played setter all of the 2013 season until Friday night. She hasn’t practiced at outside hitter all season.
“Jenna will get more time in practice and will be a whole lot more ready to go then she was this weekend,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said. “She did a pretty good job out there considering she hasn’t taken a swing all season.”
Jacqui Seidel had no problem distributing the ball between her teammates. She finished with 60 assists and was a key part in making sure Miami never knew which player was going to get the ball.
Those six players who did attack the ball combined for a .251 attack percentage, noticeably lower than what Ball State is used to.
Although the offense was shaky at times, Baker doesn’t expect it to become normal for her team in the upcoming weeks.
“Yes, we definitely miss [Fuelling and Kitchel], but inconsistency in the offense can be anything,” Baker said. “It could be passing or anything at that point but I think we’ll be fine.”
Grant, who was one of the focal points of the offense, saw the ball come to her early and often. Her 16 kills was the second highest she’s had this season, topped by Friday night’s 17 kill performance.
She said the offense will continue to pick up because each player is capable of running the offense and many of Miami’s points came from unforced errors.
Ball State committed 23 attack errors throughout the match; Miami matched them with 23, as well.
The Cardinals dropped the third set 23-25 and then won the fourth 25-23. In both sets, the Cardinals struggled to put away the RedHawks, situations where Fuelling and Kitchel normally see the ball. Without them, Ball State needed to find someone else.
Looking to find new ways to spark the offense, Seidel sent the ball to the middle blockers during those periods and constantly throughout the match. It’s a strategy that Grant said she expects to continue for the time being.
“One on one, they’re as good as anybody in the conference,” Grant said. “As long as we keep them going early, we’ll have a chance to beat anyone.”
The win improves Ball State to 20-5, 8-2 in the Mid-American Conference.