There were plenty of highlights over the course of the weekend for the Ball State University women's volleyball team (10-13, 3-7). Kelsey Brandl posted 34 kills, numerous blocks and five service aces. Kaylee Schembra had a remarkable diving, one-handed pancake dig to keep a play alive. Brandl also recorded two digs in the back row, contributing to a critical point in a set win. Charde' Phillips blasted a kill off the face of a defender.
The only problem between such spectacular efforts was the fact that the Cardinals continued to be plagued by a Jekyll and Hyde-like performance. The end result was a five-set loss to Bowling Green State University (9-16, 2-8) and a 25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 21-25 loss to Miami University (12-10, 7-3).
"We had the same issues [Saturday] as we did Friday night," coach Dave Boos said. "We have to play a complete game and, again [Saturday], we didn't. When we error so much, we're not going to win."
The first set win for the Cardinals over the RedHawks was a total team effort. Brandl, Jennifer Boyd, Hannah Sullivan, Alisha Green, and Phillips all contributed kills and blocks while the defense limited the RedHawks to a .036 hitting percentage. The clincher was a Green kill, followed by an intense scream and two clinched fists.
"The blocks we were getting were really good blocks," Brandl said. "It helps the defense so they don't have to run all over the court."
The next three sets, much like the last three sets of Friday night's match against Bowling Green, did not go Ball State's way. Playing a shaky and error-filled defense caused the Cardinals to drop the match.
"We started off strong and had good ball handling early, but that diminished throughout the match," Boos said. "We can't ask much more of Kelsey. She's developed into an All-MAC player."
Brandl led the Cardinals with 14 kills, four block assists, four service aces and two digs on the night. Phillips and Green added eight kills each. Sophomore setter Brittany McGinnis tallied 39 assists and seven digs. Alyssa Rio paced the defense with 15 digs with Schembra just behind with 14.
"You always want to pull off the win," Brandl said. "We have to go back to the drawing board and try to find a game plan to win."
One noticeable difference from Friday night and the previous two months of the season was the attitude of the Cardinals. Ball State made an effort to be more vocal and supportive of each other.
"We're trying to be more team oriented and structured. I'm glad it was noticeable because we did make more of an effort tonight," Brandl said. "There wasn't enough of it though, and it will be something we continue to work on."
The loss to Miami extends Ball State's losing streak to four games with a road trip to Western Michigan University and Northern Illinois University next weekend.
"We're going to do the only thing we can do. We're going to go back to practice and keep training and training hard," Boos said. "It's going to take a collective effort to turn this around."