Few things could make Ball State’s regular season closing win against Western Michigan University more satisfying for Jenna Spadafora.

Doing it on her birthday is one of them.

“I love that I got a win on my birthday,” Spadafora said. “Our offense was really even tonight and it gave us a great advantage.”

Five Cardinals finished with 10 or more kills, led by Mindy Marx who had 19.

Spadafora was a key on offense for Ball State as they knocked off Western Michigan in four sets.

Normally a setter, Spadafora played outside hitter and finished with 11 kills, giving the offense power early in the match.

The (25-21), (28-26), (23-25), (25-17) win coupled with Toledo’s loss gave Ball State a share of the Mid-American Conference West title.

“Nothing about this win felt easy,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said. “But that loss to Akron we had made us do some soul searching, and maybe it was a blessing in disguise.”

Trailing 17-14 in the first set, Ball State went on a 6-1 run to take a two point lead. They held onto the lead and won the set, giving the team needed momentum in an arena they hadn’t won in since 2006.

Throughout the match, Ball State seemed to overwhelm Western Michigan. The attacks Ball State threw at their opponent knocked defenders backwards and gave Ball State confidence.

Constant holes opened up in the Broncos’ defense and after Cardinals survived the initial emotional rush their opponents had, as it was senior night, they were able to settle in and execute their offense.

With her team behind 18-19, Spadafora threw down a kill to tie the second set and her team never looked back. A back-and-forth affair ended with Alex Fuelling finishing the set off with a kill, giving her team a 2-0 lead in the match.

Spadafora’s offense came as a welcome relief for a Ball State offense that’s struggled to engineer a consistent attack over the past few weeks.

Her offense wasn’t the only offense for Ball State on the night.
The team combined for 71 kills on the night, with 25 of them coming in the second set.

“Jenna had a great weekend,” Shondell said. “We have to have a balanced offense because that’s the strength of our team, and Mindy was just razor sharp all night.”

Ball State trailed the third set 13-16, but three straight attack errors from Western Michigan tied the set.

After both teams battled to a 23 tie, Western Michigan added two kills to extend the match to a fourth set.

The Cardinals didn’t waste time jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the final set. They extended the lead to 15-8 off a serve from Kati Vasalakis that kissed the top of the net, before falling across untouched.

The match win improved Ball State’s overall record to 24-7, along with 12-4 in the MAC.

But winning on her birthday was special for her.

“This was a really great present,” Spadafora said, her smile stretching ear to ear.