Mindy Marx, a senior middle hitter, goes up to hit the ball against the University of Toledo on Nov. 7 at Worthen Arena. Marx had 18 kills. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Varied attack gives Ball State advantage
By the end of Saturday’s match against Western Michigan University, Lauren Grant had 10 kills. That would normally put a player at or near the top of the kill lead in a match.
Not this time, though, not when four other players finished with even more in one of the strongest offensive performances of the season by the Ball State women’s volleyball team.
But it wasn’t holes in the defense that Ball State was seeing that spurred the offense, said sophomore middle blocker Hayley Benson.
“[It was] a lot of determination,” she said. “Last week was a huge motivator for us, and we really wanted it [Saturday].”
Just one week prior to the win against Western Michigan, Ball State dropped a match to the University of Akron that stunned both the players and head coach Steve Shondell.
Against Akron, the team recorded just 54 kills and hit .209, compared to Saturday when the players had 71 kills and hit .263.
Shondell said the loss made his team do some “soul-searching” and hopes it helps his team in the long run.
The Ball State offense was spearheaded by Mindy Marx, who finished with a team-high 19 kills. Western Michigan had no answer for the senior middle blocker, as she consistently beat single and double block attempts.
She tallied 12 kills in the final two sets, sparking an offense that has been lethargic over the past few weeks.
“We stayed aggressive and never backed down from Western’s block,” sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling said. “We kept swinging and the points kept coming.”
The points never stopped coming in the second set. Ball State rattled off 25 kills and finished off the set with a kill from Fuelling, who ended the night with 12.
She looked more physically comfortable then she has since returning from injury. Shondell said he was looking for her to be around 90 percent.
She started the match strong, although she recorded just four kills in the final two sets as senior setter Jacqui Seidel began giving other players more attempts. Seidel finished with 63 assists.
A number of those went to sophomore Jenna Spadafora. The setter, who’s been turned into an outside hitter, finished with 12 kills, which was enough to please Shondell, he said.
Spadafora has said in the past that although she’s willing to move to the outside to provide offense, it can make her uncomfortable because it isn’t her natural position.
“Jenna stepped into that left side and held her own late in the season after not playing it at all — give her credit,” Shondell said. “We had such a great turnaround this weekend.”
The five players who finished with double-digit kills combined for 69 of the 71 total kills.
The offense overwhelmed Western Michigan’s blockers, who didn’t have answers for the varied attack.
“Jacqui did a great job setting the offense, everyone was great,” Shondell said. “It’s something great to build off of.”