Looking to start off the weekend strong, Ball State Women’s Volleyball (1-0, 0-0 MAC) snagged a 3-2 win against the South Alabama (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) in the first match of the Dayton Invitational. In a tight match, the Cardinals were able to pull away from the Jaguars in the fifth game to take the match, 3-2.
Game one of the match stayed even early on, with kills from seniors Ellie Dunn and Emily Holland, as well as South Alabama’s Kelley Hartman and Iva Durdanovic. Additional kills by senior Carly Capello and sophomore Kia Holder and an ace by junior Amber Seaman put the Cardinals ahead 11-7 forcing the Jaguars to take an early timeout.
The teams went back and forth with service errors and kills to keep the first game close game and eventually tied, 19-19. Kills from senior Ellie Dunn and an ace from junior Kate Avila would lead the Cardinals to a game one victory.
In game two, the Jaguars came out hot to start off with a 9-3 advantage. A Jaguar service error and a kill by junior Sydnee VanBeek brought the Cardinals back within 4, but a few errors and consistent front row performance by the Jaguars led to a 6-0 scoring run and put the score at 17-7. Although the Cardinals were able to cut the deficit later in the game, the Jaguars took game two, 25-19.
“A lot of the errors were definitely mental,” said head coach Kelli Miller. “We just needed to make better decisions each set. Rather than trying to be the hero and get the kill, sometimes we just needed to make the smart play and keep the ball alive.”
Another neck-and-neck start for game three led to an early score of 7-7. Two aces from Capelloa few errors by the Jaguars gave the Cardinals a 12-8 lead. Both teams found their groove in the middle of game three as kills began raining in from Cardinals hitters Dunn, Holder, and freshman Reece Kral, along with Jaguar front-liners Hartman, Durdanovic, and Harris. The game reached a Cardinal lead of 21-16, and although the Jaguars went on a 3-0 scoring run, Dunn sealed the win for the Cardinals with a kill for a final score of 25-20.
“We maintained serving and passing pressure very well,” Miller added. “Passing was consistent and the girls did a nice job of playing their roles and staying composed throughout the match. They really kept with it and fought hard.”
The beginning of game four saw an ace from Harris and back-to-back kills by Stalcup, but Kral answered with a kill of her own and contributed to a 7-5 Cardinal lead. Both teams answered each other in hits and kept the game close throughout. The Jaguars would finish on top for game four, ending with a 3-0 run and a score of 22-25, forcing a fifth game.
The Cardinals claimed a match victory after a score of 15-11 in game five with a few big kills from Dunn and points from senior Lauren Schreiner. There were 48 kills on the day for the Cardinals, along with nine aces and eight blocks. Setter Amber Seaman contributed 40 assists, while kills were led by Dunn who tallied 17. Dunn also added 10 digs to achieve her first career double-double.
“We definitely need more consistency from set to set,” said Miller. “Cutting back on the hitting errors and keeping a high percentage is important when looking to the rest of the weekend. We also just need to be smarter about decision-making in those exciting moments.”
The Dayton Invitational continues tomorrow, and the Cardinals will be back in action at 1 p.m.in their match versus the Dayton Flyers.