DAVE'S DIGS: Close sets will benefit Ball State
David Polaski is a junior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘Dave’s Digs’ for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to David at email@example.com
The Ball State women’s volleyball team shouldn’t worry if its trailing Western Michigan late in a set.
That’s because the Broncos can’t close a set out, and the team proved it in both of its matches against the Cardinals.
Whether it’s a mental collapse, lack of experience or Ball State’s play, Western Michigan has lost six sets to Ball State this season. In four of them, Western Michigan held a lead late but couldn’t put the set away.
Saturday night, Western Michigan was leading 17-14 in the first set, Ball State went on a 11-4 run to steal it away.
Five Broncos errors helped that cause as the team stumbled and bumbled away a chance to take the first set on senior night, losing momentum and handing Ball State a regular season closing victory.
Not long after, Western Michigan led 21-20 in the second set until an attack error tied the match. A minute later, Ball State fell behind but tied the match again, this time off a blocking error from Gillian Asque. Ball State went on to win the set.
The problem appears to be apparent to Western Michigan head coach Colleen Munson, as well.
Earlier in the season, her team blew two late leads to Ball State at Worthen Arena before being blown out of the fourth set. Western Michigan looked broken during the final set.
After it ended, Munson spent nearly 45 minutes saying who knows what to her players in the locker room.
It couldn’t have been positives. Four girls emerged crying, and Munson was very short with the media afterward, making it clear that she didn’t want to talk.
That’s not the look of a mentally sound team, not the look of one that has the fortitude to match Ball State blow-for-blow late in a close set.
When head coach Steve Shondell’s team take the court Friday in Geneva, Ohio, at the Mid-American Conference Tournament, there will be no reason to fear the Broncos.
Whether it’s a win or loss, his team hasn’t panicked during matches. The players have kept their composure, an important factor in the tournament. When a set is decided by just a few points, Ball State has done well all season with coming out on top.
The team from Kalamazoo, Mich., has done nothing to prove that it can beat Ball State when the set is on the line. The team has, however, proven that it can beat itself.
Against the Broncos, the Cardinals simply have to make sure the players don’t try to do too much. By staying calm, the Cardinals automatically have an advantage over the opponent. Western Michigan’s players looked frayed and frazzled as they were blowing late leads to Ball State, rather than keeping their cool.
By winning the mental fight, Ball State has already won half the battle.
When alerted that they would play Western Michigan in the first game of the tournament, Ball State’s Alex Fuelling and Hayley Benson smiled and chuckled.
There’s no sense of fear of Western Michigan from them.
Hard to blame them either.