10 aces and 19.5 points from Northern Illinois (4-13, 1-1 MAC) senior Meg Wolowicz led to a Ball State (10-5, 1-1 MAC) loss in Dekalb this evening.
Sophomore Kia Holder was a force to be reckoned with in set one, rattling off four kills early to push the Cardinals ahead 11-9. At one point in the set, the Cardinals held an 18-15 advantage before the Huskies rattled off three points in a row to tie the set. Sophomore Jori Radtke and Wolowicz gave the Huskies an edge with four kills apiece. Both teams traded points back and forth before a Cardinal attack error gave the Huskies a 25-23 set one win.
“We know that every MAC match is going to be a battle,” head coach Kelli Miller said. “Half of that battle is coming out mentally prepared and finding our rhythm.”
With four back-to-back kills from Wolowicz early in the second set, the Huskies maintained a solid lead throughout. Senior Ellie Dunn fought back with four kills of her own, but the Cardinals struggled to come back. Freshman Jasmine Kemp and senior Chrystal McAlpin contributed to the strong Huskie frontline to give them the second set victory, 25-18.
“Northern Illinois has a very challenging home court environment,” Miller said. “They have a strong following and they got their momentum going early on in the match.”
The Cardinals held a steady lead throughout set three with more solid performances from Holder and Dunn. While the Huskies tied things up at 18-18, the Cardinals held their composure, and three kills from junior Sydnee VanBeek brought the Cardinals to their first set win of the match, 25-22.
The Huskies opened the fourth set with a 5-2 lead before the Cardinals went on a 6-3 run to tie the set 8-8. The Huskies then posted a 6-0 run to take a commanding 14-8 advantage. Key kills from Jessica Lindsey brought the Cardinals within two points late in the set. However, the Huskies clinched a match victory with a 5-3 run to end set four with a 25-21 win.
“We have to make sure our mentality going into each game is sharp,” Miller said. “Some other things we have to work on are defending good left side attackers and finding what routine works best for us.”
Dunn posted 15 kills on the night, while Holder added 12 and a .333 hitting percentage. Junior Kate Avila contributed 23 digs.