With only four matches remaining heading into Thursday and Friday night's games, the women's volleyball team knew it was in a must-win situation.
A solid 3-0 victory over IPFW Thursday night followed a 3-1 thumping of Toledo Friday evening. The win restored some confidence to the team, which prior to the two matches had lost three key Mid-American Conference road matches in the span of one month.
The Cardinals (18-7 overall, 13-3 MAC) still trail MAC West leader Northern Illinois by a game, but a 30-17, 30-28, 30-20 win over IPFW helped get the team back on its feet.
"It's a win on the road and that's something we have been looking for," said head coach Randy Litchfield. "IPFW is a good program, and this was a competitive match tonight.
"Hopefully, this will provide us with some momentum for our final three league matches on the road. It's that time of year where every match is a big one."
In the match, junior Katie Butts tallied 14 kills and hit .367, while seniors Susie Meshberger and Megan Hammons combined for 26 kills. Hammons also added 14 digs to lead the Cards.
From there the team traveled east for a Friday night showdown with Toledo - a team that was 12-2 at home heading into the match.
Ball State had some struggles early on, but came away with the 33-31, 27-30, 30-18, 30-18 win.
Down by as many as seven during the first game, the Cardinals used an 8-2 run to pull within one at 17-18. However, the Rockets took a 29-26 lead and were poised to capture the opening victory. Kills by Hammons and Meshberger and a UT error brought the game to a 29-29 deadlock. Ball State took its first lead of the game at 31-30 on a lifting error called on Toledo. At 31-31, Toledo followed up with two shots that sailed long to give the Cards the win.
In the second game the Rockets came out strong, snatching a 30-27 win to tie the match up at one a piece.
Unlike most past road matches, Ball State came out of the locker room after the break and dominated the third and fourth games, outhitting Toledo .405 to .104 to close the match.
"We might have gotten something figured out," Litchfield said. "This is a quality win against a team that's really good at home. It keeps us in the hunt."
Hammons led the team with 14 kills, and Butts and Meshberger each finished with 11. Sophomore Lauren Gilbert recorded a team-high 35 assists.
"I was pleased that we were tested," Litchfield said. "We needed to be tested to show that we have enough character to succeed. We really passed this test tonight."