Ball State moves into MAC play after 2-1 finish at Ball State and Butler Tournament
Ball State women’s volleyball closed out nonconference play this weekend with three matches against Evansville, Duquesne and Butler in the Ball State and Butler Tournament.
The Cardinals recorded a 8-5 overall record in nonconference play, after finishing out the weekend 2-1.
“We’ve still got to find more consistency,” head coach Kelli Miller said. “One strength was that we had a lot of people come off the bench and really help us out this weekend. They did a great job of filling in and stepping up.”
at Eastern Michigan (Friday Sept. 22)
at Central Michigan (Saturday Sept. 23)
at Toledo (Thursday Sept. 28)
vs. Buffalo (Saturday Sept. 30)
On Thursday, the Ball State Cardinals defeated the Evansville Purple Aces (6-6) with a straight-set win to open the tournament (25-15, 25-18, 25-14).
The Cardinals grabbed a first set win with 11 assists from sophomore setter Amber Seaman, along with four kills from redshirt junior middle hitter Meg Starling. Ball State followed in the second set, to record another win against the Aces, 25-18.
Evansville started off strong in the third set with a seven point run, however, Ball State kept their momentum and took the lead at 9-8 with two kills from Starling and junior outside hitter Ellie Dunn.
On Friday, the Cardinals fought back from a 2-0 deficit to pull off a five set win against Duquesne in the tournament. (20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-11).
Ball State and Duquesne kicked off the first set in a teeter-totter race for points, tying a total of 15 times, with seven lead changes. The Dukes pulled through with a first set win at 25-20, and followed suit in the second set at 25-21.
Vying for the third win, sophomore defensive specialist Kate Avila took the serve at set point and finished the set with an ace, 25-22. The Cardinals were all in, bringing the heat in the fourth set with a 7-4 point run with the help of three kills by junior outside hitter Ellie Dunn and three more from Holland. Ball State won the fourth set 25-19, after a double block from Dunn and sophomore middle hitter Sydnee Vanbeek. A 15-11 victory in the fifth set gave Ball State the match victory.
“I thought our intensity really picked up in set three, we were just sluggish in the first few sets,” Miller said. “When you’re playing sluggish volleyball, you’re going to get beat by good teams. I think we finally got a little kick in the butt and came back out with so much more intensity.”
The Cardinals finished out the tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler against the Bulldogs.
What looked to be a possible back-to-back 2-0 match comeback on Saturday, ended in a Butler victory over Ball State. An offensive turnaround drove the third and fourth sets, much to be contributed Seaman, who racked up a team-high of 28 assists along with three blocks.
Miller has been putting a lot of emphasis on consistency and self-improvement this season, and this weekend’s tournament showcased that success.
“Our serving presence definitely made a huge difference, just keeping the pressure on them,” Miller said. “We had to reverse when they were serving tough at us, and when you have that consistent tough server on you, it just makes a huge difference. I was pleased that we could continue that from the weekend.”
Ball State will now transition into Mid-American Conference play as they return to the court this weekend to take on a pair of MAC foes in Eastern and Central Michigan.
The Cardinals will travel to Eastern Michigan on Friday to take on the Eagles at 3 p.m., followed by a 8 p.m. match on Saturday at Central Michigan.
This weekend kicks off the first of 16 matches for the Cardinals against MAC opponents before entering the MAC Tournament.