Cardinals' streak snapped by USC

Cardinals suffer losses to Pitt, USC, Nebraska

The end of one streak for the Ball State women's volleyball team quickly turned into the beginning of another this weekend at the Radisson Hotel Roberts/Nike Classic in Worthen Arena.

Ball State entered the tournament with the nation's third longest active home court win streak, but ended up losing all three of their matches to start the 2002 season 0-3.

Following Nebraska's victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Cardinals took the floor for the first time this season to face off against No. 3 USC. Following a 6-6 tie, the Trojans jumped out to a 22-15 lead. Ball State got the score back within four points at 24-20 before USC went on a six-to-two spurt to end the game at 30-22. USC then handily won game two 30-17, thanks to an early 11-5 run.

In the final game of the match, the Cards fell behind 3-0 early, but were able to tie it at six apiece before USC went on a 14-6 run and eventually won the game 30-20 to give them a victory in the match. Senior outside attacker Katie Butts led Ball State with a team-high 11 kills for the match, while USC junior April Ross recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs. The Trojans' victory ended Ball State's home win streak at 42 consecutive matches.

Sunday saw Ball State facing off against another top opponent in No. 2 Nebraska. In the opening game of the match, the Cardinals held the lead at 13-9 before the Huskers stepped up to tie the game at 18 all. From there, Nebraska scored 12 of the next 14 points to win the game 30-20.

The Cardinals took the lead early again in game two at 5-0. Ball State led all the way up until Nebraska knotted the game at 15 apiece. The end of game saw the Huskers increase their attack late again just as they had done in game one. Nebraska won the second game 30-19.

What turned out to be the final game of the match was a dogfight until the very end. The teams traded the lead all the way up until a 28-28 tie. At that point, it was Nebraska that proved to have more gas left in the tank as they pulled out the 30-28 victory.

Freshman outside attacker Sarah Obras had nine kills to pace the Cards on the night. On the defensive end, sophomore libero Stephanie Keller tallied 13 digs, while Ball State setters junior Lauren Gilbert and sophomore Stacie Baldwin each had 12 assists. Nebraska was led by senior outside attacker Laura Pilakowski's match-high 12 kills and senior setter Greichaly Cepero's match-high 34 assists.

In their final match of the tournament, Ball State fell to Pittsburgh in four games. The first game saw the two teams trade the lead early and often before the Panthers took control after a 12-12 tie. Pittsburgh eventually won the game 30-25.

Game two played out in a similar way with Pitt taking the lead after the game was knotted at 10 apiece. The Cards refused to go quietly though and drew within three as late as 25-22 before the Panthers put it away 30-24.

The Cardinals finally put it all together in game three on Monday as they never trailed and won 30-25. It proved to be too little too late though as Pittsburgh fought back from a late four point deficit to win the fourth and final game of the match.

Senior outside attacker Katie Butts had a team-high 12 kills against the Panthers.


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