While there were plenty of positives for the Cardinals, they also know they have work to do.
Ball State picked up its second and third wins of the season by defeating Wisconsin-La Crosse and Seattle Pacific. The Cardinals (3-7) put up a season-high 192.75.
"As a team, we all have good motivation coming out of this meet," freshman Kristin Vignola said. "The mood is great. We know we're a strong team."
Illinois State (9-5) won the meet with a 194.
The balance beam — the cause of many troubles for the Cardinals — turned out to be the team's best event Friday. Ball State scored a 48.675, its best score of the season and enough to win the event.
"It felt really good to go to beam and have each [of us] understand how to be herself," coach Nadalie Walsh said.
Sophomore Nicole Allen finished second on the beam with a 9.85, which is the 11th-best score in school history. Allen also won the vault with a 9.8.
Junior Brittney Emmons had a season-high 38.9 in the all-around to place second, including an event win in the uneven bars and a second-place finish in the floor exercise.
The Cardinals began the meet on the floor, and Vignola kicked off the meet with a solid 9.6, for which Walsh commended the freshman.
Vignola said she wasn't nervous starting the meet.
"I know I can hit my floor routine," she said.
Walsh said she thought her team's floor scores would have been higher if Ball State hadn't been on the event first.
"We had to work really hard to get higher floor scores," she said.
The coach also spread praise out to many of her gymnasts, including Allen, Emmons and junior MaryAnn Oehlerking. She specifically noted the contribution of freshman Aftyn Siemer, who closed the meet for the Cardinals with a 9.725 on the beam.
"It's really neat to see some younger girls compete as if they've been doing it all their lives, which they have," Walsh said.
While it wasn't a perfect meet — the team had to count falls on the vault and bars — Ball State will have a chance to fix its mistakes Sunday when it faces Mid-American Conference opponent Bowling Green.
"I know I have Sunday to redeem myself, and I will redeem myself," Vignola said.