WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State wins Active Ankle Challenge

Cardinals sweep tournament championship game

Freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker continued to shine brightly early in her career at Ball State. Baker blasted a career high 16 kills and 11 digs in Ball State's 3-0 win against Oakland on Saturday night.

The win accomplishes a goal Ball State coach Steve Shondell set the first week on the job in April: Winning the Active Ankle Challenge. With the win Ball State remains undefeated through two weeks of action. Ball State is now 6-0. It's the first time Ball State won the Active Ankle Challenge since 2005 when it was a two match event. The 6-0 start is also matches the 6-0 start to the 1989 season when Randy Litchfield was in his first year at Ball State.

"We strive to win every match. We've only been together for four weeks and taking baby steps," Shondell said. "We've still got a long way to go, but this is a good start. It's been a long time since Ball State has put six wins in a row together, but we can't let it go to our head."

Oakland proved to be a worthy adversary in the final match of the two day tournament. Numerous times throughout the course of the match there were long rallies and great defensive plays. Even when Ball State would go on runs Oakland answered to keep the sets close down the stretch.

"You've just got to give it all you have," Baker said. "We all left it out there on the court and couldn't have asked for anything else."

The offensive outburst of Baker, junior middle blocker Kelsey Brandl, freshman outside hitter Whitney Heeres, and junior middle blocker Jennifer Boyd was too much for the Golden Grizzlies.

"We're getting good leadership from our veteran players and we've got some young kids rising to the occasion," Shondell said. "It's just clicking really well for us right now."

A noticeable improvement from previous matches, Ball State was able to close out sets quicker and convincingly. The Cardinals put the first set away without a problem and only gave a point up before finishing the second and third sets.

Oakland also attempted to shake their lineup in the final set to spark a different outcome. The experiment fail as the Golden Grizzlies weren't able to challenge.

"Seeing how I haven't won it [the Active Ankle Challenge] in my three years I'm excited and boosts our confidence," senior libero Alyssa Rio said. "Hopefully it will keep bringing in the fans too."

Meghan Bray led Oakland offensively with 13 kills. Allison Bell added eight for the Golden Grizzlies who finish second in the Active Ankle Challenge, posting a 2-1 record for the weekend.

"We were really excited and anxious. We were really happy to be clicking together," Baker said. "It's so much fun out there with my teammates. We've been growing together for the last few weeks, so it's just great."

Baker, Brandl, and Rio were named to the All-Tournament team. Brandl took the top honor, being named the tournament's most valuable player.

For more on the Active Ankle Challenge read Monday's edition of The Ball State Daily News.