Ball State was thoroughly dominated in the first set at Central Michigan, but the rest of the match went as scripted. The Cardinals swept the next three sets to clinch at least a share of the regular season Mid-American Conference championship for the first time since 2002. It also clinched a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament.
Karin Caudill, senior defensive specialist, came off the bench and provided a lift for Ball State. She recorded only one dig, but coach Steve Shondell credited Caudill for waking up his team after they trailed 20-7 at one point in the first set.
"We were able to right the ship from the off the bench effort by Karin Caudill tonight," Shondell said. "With her serve and defense she gave us momentum going into game two."
Caudill said she was nervous entering the match after having been called upon sparsely this season. She wanted to help any way she could.
"I'm not going to get many more opportunities," Caudill said. "I went in with a positive attitude. I don't remember the score, but we were down by quite a bit, but it didn't feel like it."
As important as the offense was for Ball State, the defense was even more important. It turned the tide.
Senior libero Alyssa Rio finished with 26 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Catie Fredrich recorded 11 as the front line posted two blocks in the win.
Rio also became just the second player in program history to record more than 2,000 kills in a career. Rio now has 2,023 digs and trails Stephanie Keller
Offensively freshman outside hitter Whitney Heeres led Ball State with 15 kills. Junior middle blocker Kelsey Brandl added 14 kills as did freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker.
"It's nice to have the ability to come back like this," Brandl said. "It makes me nervous at the same time. We need to get better at coming out stronger and not losing intensity later on so we don't put ourselves in a situation where we can't come back."
Ball State enters the final week of the regular season needing one win to clinch the MAC regular season championship and the top seed in the MAC Tournament.