Jenna Spadafora, a sophomore setter, spikes the ball against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 2. Spadafora had 9 kills during the match. DN PHOTO EMMA ROGERS
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State drops second straight match
AKRON, OHIO — Ball State was on a 7-0 run and had all the momentum, as the offense was throwing down kills and the defense was blocking nearly every attack and digging each volleyball that got past the blockers.
But the hole the women’s volleyball team had dug itself was too large.
The 7-0 run only tied the fourth set of Ball State’s 3-1 (17-25), (19-25), (25-9), (26-24) loss to the University of Akron.
After leading the set 24-23, Ball State collapsed and allowed Akron to fire off the last 3 points, sealing Ball State’s second straight Mid-American Conference loss.
It’s the first conference losing streak Ball State has seen this season.
“In the first two sets, [Akron] dug everything we hit,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said. “They played flawless volleyball and didn’t let anything hit the floor.”
Shondell wasn’t exaggerating. In the first two sets, Akron held Ball State to just .172 in attack percentage and had 39 digs.
It was a rare sight when Ball State sent an attack over the net that went untouched. Over and over, Akron’s blockers rejected Ball State’s kills or deflected them, allowing for an easy return.
Trailing two sets to none, Ball State came out firing in the third set. Shondell moved Jenna Spadafora off the setting position and inserted Jacqui Seidel, saying that he was hoping to jumpstart the offense by allowing Spadafora to see more time at outside hitter.
It worked. Ball State jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the third set and cruised to the set victory. After committing 12 attack errors in the first two sets, Ball State only had two in the third as the team looked crisper and in control.
“I wanted to give Jacqui a chance to wake our team up,” Shondell said. “Our left sides just weren’t getting the job done.”
Ball State’s outside attackers struggled to obtain consistency throughout the match, the same issue that plagued them in the Thursday loss to the University of Toledo.
Shondell said the team’s injuries are the root of the loss of power.
“Alex [Fuelling] is still missing three inches of her jump,” Shondell said. “We’re doing the best I can, but what can I do.”
The injury situation took its toll on the Cardinals against the Zips.
Ball State was missing Mackenzie Kitchel, who’s out for the season. Shondell said the team misses her physicality and although he said Fuelling is playing the best she can right now, it’s clear that she isn’t as explosive as she was before her ankle injury.
To make matters worse for Ball State, Kylee Baker attempted a spike during the fourth set and proceeded to walk gingerly off the court with the trainer. She didn’t return to the match.
Without the offense from Kitchel, Baker and Fuelling combined with the loss of back row defense when Baker left, Ball State has too many holes to fill and not enough time to fill them due to dropping the first two sets.
“Once Baker went out, our back row defense wasn’t the same,” Shondell said. “Hopefully, we can get her back quickly so she can at least give us defense back there.”
The loss drops Ball State to 10-4 in the MAC.