Even though the Ball State University women's tennis team started Saturday's final home match of the season on an emotional high, it was eventually brought back down to Earth.
Miami University made sure of that, easily defeating Ball State in a 6-1 contest at the Cardinal Creek Tennis Center.
The loss drops Ball State to a 1-3 record in the Mid-American Conference and a 7-10 record overall, killing any momentum it gained in last week's win over Northern Illinois University.
But amid the disappointment of another loss for the Cardinals, a feel-good story emerged from the rubble.
Senior Katherine Rist, who was honored shortly before the match as the only senior on the team, earned the lone win for Ball State in her singles match with 6-3, 6-3, straight-set victory.
Even with four matches left in the season for Ball State, it was a fitting home send-off for one of the team's most prominent leaders.
"She's been a great support for the girls and myself," coach Amy Behrman said. "Just being here for a season, she's always being a mature young lady- helping me on the court, seeing things and knowing the team. She's been one of the leaders and a little more outspoken than most of them."
Prior to the match, Rist was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd and a gift from the entire team. The other players on the Ball State squad made it known how much Rist meant to them.
"I think she brought a lot of fire to the team," sophomore Dena Boulieris said. "She always pumped us up before the matches; she always believed in all of us and told us to fight hard and everything. So she's definitely an aspect to the team."
Miami, however, quickly doused any fire that Ball State began with in the match.
The RedHawks set the tempo early, sweeping the doubles matches to win the first point. Ball State's No. 1 tandem of Rist and Kylee Johnson fought hard early in their match but were eventually defeated by Stephanie Danesis and Megan Martzolf, 8-4.
Ball State didn't fare any better in the singles matches, losing four of the six matches in straight sets. Junior Georgina Thompson managed to push her match into three sets, but eventually lost to Danesis by the score of 6-0, 2-6, 6-3.
The loss is yet another setback for Ball State in the MAC competition, but the team maintained that positives could be taken away from the match.
"We were really energetic when we first came out here," Boulieris said. "We fought hard in doubles and in singles, and all of the set scores were really close, so the singles didn't really reflect how we played and everything. We all fought well."
Ball State now begins a four-match road trip to close out its season, beginning with matches against the University of Akron and the University at Buffalo next weekend.
And even after the final home match of her college career, Rist remained focused on the challenges that lie ahead for the team.
"We've got a couple big matches," Rist said. "The two matches next weekend, and then Eastern Michigan and Toledo, I'm really looking forward to. Those are two teams we haven't beaten before but are two very beatable teams. I know we're really looking forward to all of them."