Team defense is one of the most complex aspects in sports, and the Ball State women’s volleyball team is learning this firsthand. 

“We were basically like a roller coaster on defense,” head coach Steve Shondell said after his team finished 0-3 at the HotelRED Invitational. “We were very good at times and not so good at times. That was kind of the story of our weekend.”

The team began the weekend by facing off against Missouri State. While the Cardinals were in a position to open the tournament with a victory, they dropped a five-set loss to the Lady Bears.

Against Missouri State, Shondell tweaked the lineup, moving redshirt junior Alex Fuelling from her normal outside hitter position to libero. It was her first career start at the libero position, where she remained all weekend.

Fuelling responded well to the position change, keeping rallies alive all tournament and accumulating 59 digs. 

“I thought, overall, for [Fuelling’s] first weekend playing the libero position, for the first time in her life, she did a very incredible job,” Shondell said. “I know she would’ve liked to play a little better at times.”

Fuelling will remain at the libero position for the near future, as Ball State’s defense showed improvement with the change.

After finishing a late match against Missouri State on Friday, the team returned to the court for an early 11 a.m. match against Miami (Fla.) on Saturday.

The Cardinals came out firing on all cylinders against the Hurricanes, jumping out to a 2-0-match lead, but were again unable to secure a win, dropping the final three sets.

Ball State held Miami (Fla.) to just a .109 attack percentage in the first two sets. In the final three sets, the Hurricanes were able to attack at a .441 percentage.

In the tournament’s final match, Ball State faced No. 4 Wisconsin, getting swept 3-0. 

Junior setter Jenna Spadafora was the lone Cardinal named to the all-tournament team.

Spadafora registered 102 assists over the weekend, while also tallying 24 kills, with an attack percentage of .448. Against Missouri State, she finished just one kill shy of a triple double of kills, assists and digs.

Ball State plays at IPFW on Wednesday, and then travels to play in the VCU Invitational beginning Friday.

With conference play just around the corner, Shondell hope his team will begin to show more consistency.

“I just feel like, right now, we are still trying to find ourselves as a team,” Shondell said. “We are still trying to find the best combination, and sometimes it takes time to put a puzzle together.”