Ball State won both sets after halftime to hold off Toledo on Thursday evening in an important contest with Mid-American Conference Tournament seeding implications. The Cardinals took the match 3-1 (25-15, 22-25, 31-29, 25-21).
It was a physical match from the start, as the first set was tied at six until Ball State used a 7-2 run to open the score to 13-8. Toledo would not tie the set again after that point.
The Rockets would rally from 21-17 down in the second set, winning it 25-22 to tie the match at one going into the halftime.
That would lead to a thrilling third set, where Toledo jumped to a 7-3 lead before Ball State won 14 of the next 20 points. Down 24-23, the Rockets would force extra points to be played.
At one point, it looked like the set would finish at 27-25, but Toledo used a challenge and won back a point, forcing the third set to continue. Ball State would eventually win two points in a row to clinch the set, 31-29.
"One thing that I was most proud of was that, after that reverse, that we really maintained our composure, and I thought that was a good experience moment for us," Ball State head coach Kelli Miller said.
The Cardinals controlled play in the fourth set, and a late rally by the Rockets ended up falling short, as the Cardinals held off the Rockets 25-21.
Last time out against Toledo, Ball State lost 3-0 and had double the amount of errors as Toledo. This time, the Cardinals were much better offensively. Junior outside hitter Ellie Dunn led the pack with 15 kills. Senior opposite Jessica Lindsey tallied nine for her third-straight career night in her final game playing in Worthen Arena.
"The fight song definitely got me at the end a little bit," Lindsey said. "I saw a couple of my teammates crying, and it's really bittersweet. I love playing in Worthen. It's the greatest place to play in the MAC, no doubt."
Ball State had nine service aces to Toledo's two. Sophomore setter Amber Seaman had four of those aces, including the game winner.
Ball State held Toledo senior opposite Saige Thomas in check for the most of the match, with her racking up 15 kills to lead the Rockets.
The Cardinals defense was up to the task throughout. Sophomore defensive specialist Kate Avila led the way with 26 digs and freshman Grace Nelson tallied nine digs while playing in just two sets, including big ones down the stretch to seal the victory.
"I thought the dig [Nelson] had into the corner in set was huge," Miller said. "It took all the wind out of their sails. I thought she just gave us that spark right when we needed a defensive presence."
Ball State travels to Akron next at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
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