The volleyball team huddles together before returning to play the third set of the game Oct. 3 against Eastern Michigan. DN PHOTO SAMANTHA BRAMMER
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State ends regular season with victory over Akron
After dominating the first set 25-15, it looked as if the Ball State women’s volleyball team would cruise to a convincing victory against visiting Akron.
Akron gave Ball State all it could handle, however, as the Cardinals had to fight to hold on for a 3-1 win. It was Ball State's last regular season match.
“[Akron] started playing the kind of volleyball they’re very capable of playing,” head coach Steve Shondell said. “The final three games [were] just a battle.”
The Cardinals jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first set and didn’t look back.
Redshirt junior Alex Fuelling began the set on a service run and finished the first set with two aces. She had a total of six aces on the night.
Shondell said the first set was easy for Ball State due to the mistakes made by Akron.
“In game one, [Akron] had five serving errors ... so the points came pretty easy,” he said. “We served well, they didn’t. They were a little shaky early on.”
Akron was able to bounce back, however, holding Ball State to a .088 attack percentage on its way to winning the second set and tying the match. The Zips also had two service aces in the set.
The Cardinals bounced back out of the intermission with a tough 25-17 third set victory. Redshirt junior Hayley Benson and redshirt freshman Sabrina Mangapora each registered three kills in the set.
Mangapora led Ball State in the match with 11 kills and a .156 attack percentage.
Trailing 20-16 in set four, Shondell took his second timeout of the set, and it appeared as if the teams were headed for a decisive fifth set. Thanks to a service run by Fuelling and big plays from Mangapora, Spadafora, and middle hitter Kelly Hopkins, Ball State went on an eight-point run to take a 24-20 lead.
"We had a timeout and we all just knew that we had a chance to come back and win it, and we collectively decided that's what we were going to do," Mangapora said.
The Cardinals went on to win the set 25-22.
Hopkins finished the match with 10 kills as the only other Cardinal in double-figures.
Setter Jenna Spadafora assisted on 38 kills. She also registered four kills and four digs.
Fuelling led Ball State with 21 digs, while starting libero Kati Vasalakis had 15. The defense totaled seven total blocks.
Ball State will return to the court in the Mid-American Conference Tournament after a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed. The team’s next match is scheduled for Nov. 22 in Athens, Ohio.