Ball State volleyball takes tough fall to MAC rival Toledo
When Ball State women’s volleyball took its first Mid-American Conference loss to West Division rival Toledo Sept. 29, head coach Kelli Miller said the problem wasn't her team's talent.
It was her players' lack of aggression.
“When we come in prepared and attacking people, we look really good," she said. "When we come in and are kind of waiting for things to happen, we get off to slow starts. It’s important that we get off to a good start and control the momentum because it’s all mental.”
The Cardinals lost to the Rockets in four sets (25-17, 23-25, 22-25, 18-25). Both teams traded points in the opening set, but behind sophomore right side Brooklyn Goodsel's five kills Ball State took a 1-0 lead.
Goodsel finished the match with 21 kills — the seventh time she's recorded double-digit kills in her last eight matches. She also put up 9 digs, just short of a double-double. But she couldn't do it by herself, Miller said.
“We had Brooke Goodsel going, but she was about it," Miller said. "When you’re relying on one player alone, it makes it tough to win. We just could not get anybody else really going offensively."
Freshman libero Kate Avila recorded her eighth service ace of the season, leaving the Cardinals with a five-point cushion near the end of the first set.
A close second set looked similar to the first. Keeping a steady tie for 20 points, the Cardinal defense surrendered to the Rockets, 25-23. Avila recorded four digs in the set for a match total of 15, while freshman setter Amber Seaman tried to rattle the Rocket defense with 18 digs on the night.
Tied at one set apiece, Toledo tested the Ball State defense in the third set with a 25-22 takeover.
“I didn’t think we played well in any of the sets tonight. We won set one, but we weren’t playing sharp,” Miller said. “We got through it though and were making enough plays defensively to win that one. I felt like we were never really in an offensive flow tonight."
By the fourth set, the Rockets had exhausted the Cardinal defense with a seven-point run. Ball State’s late effort wasn’t enough as Toledo capped off the match with a 25-18 fourth set win.
Miller said she wants to see her team grow from the loss.
“Part of it starts with our passing, but at the same time, we have to find ways to still get points even when not everything is going perfectly,” Miller said. “This is something we’re going to have to continue to grow on. I knew this was going to be a point of emphasis all season.”
The game wrapped up the Cardinals' six-match home stand. Ball State (6-11, 2-1 MAC) will travel to Buffalo Oct. 1 to continue MAC play. Match start time will be at 6 p.m.