At the Oct. 3 home volleyball game against Eastern Michigan, senior middle hitter Hayley Benson stands prepared to block the ball. DN PHOTO SAMANTHA BRAMMER
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Benson on pace for career-best season
Ball State women’s volleyball middle hitter Hayley Benson has increased her production every year for the Cardinals.
This season, Benson is on pace to shatter her career-best totals.
Her most recent performance, against Mid-American Conference opponent Western Michigan, was a representation of her 2014 season to date.
“Tonight, [Benson] came out, and she had a spring in her step again and she had her arm back,” head coach Steve Shondell said. “She was huge for us tonight.”
Benson carved up the Broncos’ defense to the tune of 19 kills on 31 total attacks. She had three attack errors, while registering a .516 attack percentage.
This performance followed a rare match in which Benson struggled, managing only 11 kills and a .192 attack percentage.
Benson said she knew she needed to have a bounce back match against MAC rival Western Michigan.
“I think it was totally mental,” Benson said. “Last night, I kind of had a rougher game, and then I just knew I needed to bounce back really well tonight. We knew that this was going to be a tough match, so just really getting mentally prepared for this game was key.”
Benson’s mental preparation and physical skill set have allowed her to lead the Ball State offense throughout the season.
A redshirt junior, Benson has recorded 284 total kills through the Cardinals’ 25 matches this season.
She has hit an efficient .374 percentage with only 64 errors on 589 attacks. Benson averages 2.87 kills per set.
Benson currently sits in second place in the MAC in hitting percentage. She also ranks tied for 10th in kills per set.
When the offense is clicking, Benson said it helps to have everyone involved.
“[Jenna Spadafora’s] sets were on point tonight, she was really finding all of our hitters,” Benson said after the win over Western Michigan. “We connected really well, so that is a huge help obviously going offensively.”
Last season, many of the seniors were primary offensive options in addition to Benson in the middle.
Benson recorded 288 kills in 2013 through 32 matches. She posted a .353 attack percentage on 618 total attacks while averaging 2.50 kills per set.
This came after Benson’s redshirt freshman season, where she only registered 65 kills.
While continually improving her numbers, Benson is working to lead Ball State to postseason success.
The Cardinals are currently 14-11 overall and 8-4 in the conference with Benson leading the team’s offensive charge.
While she will more than likely set a new season-high in kills on Friday at Central Michigan, Benson said her focus is on carrying the team’s momentum into Ball State’s four remaining regular season matches.