Ball State lost a heartbreaker Saturday evening at Buffalo. After forcing a fifth set for the fourth time in 2010, the women's volleyball team was upended by Buffalo 26-28, 25-20, 19-25, 25-19, 13-15.
"A loss is a loss. We could have had it," senior defensive specialist and outside hitter Hannah Sullivan said. "Now I'm on an 8 hour bus ride where all I can do is think about it."
The match was highly contested defensively. The two teams combined to post 180 digs and 27 blocks. The result, Ball State hit .106 while Buffalo hit .103 for the match.
Freshman outside hitter Whitney Heeres led Ball State offensively with a career high 19 kills. Junior middle blocker Kelsey Brandl was the only other Cardinal in double-digits with 12 kills.
Ball State continued its recent trend of falling behind two sets to one and playing in must-win situations. Success in these situations had given the Cardinals confidence that they come from behind again. They almost did.
"We were so close to pulling another one off," coach Steve Shondell said. "It was a real heartbreaker. We put ourselves in position to win, but couldn't finalize. I give Buffalo credit. They played great defense, blocked some balls and we couldn't get balls down when we needed to."
Buffalo used a balanced attack to overcome Heeres' career day. Five Bulls recorded nine or 10 kills. Heather Pyle led the Buffalo defense with 24 digs.
Senior libero Alyssa Rio, the national leader in digs per set, led all defenders. Rio notched 27 digs. Senior Hannah Sullivan recorded a career high 23 digs in her best defensive effort of the season. Sullivan's previous high of 21 digs came her freshman season at Houston.
Ball State had won the blocking game for nearly the entire match. Buffalo managed to block a few balls late to finish with a 15-12 advantage at the net.
"Unforced errors on our side let them back into it," Heeres said. "We didn't take care of our side of net."
The loss ends Ball State's four-game winning streak in five-set matches.
For more read Monday's edition of The Ball State Daily News.