Defensive specialist Cathryn Starck returns a serve in John E. Worthen Arena Oct. 12, 2018, at the Ball State Women’s Volleyball game against Ohio. The Cardinals' victory over the Bobcats improved their conference record to 6-1. Eric Pritchett, DN File
Solid defensive performance powers Ball State past Western Michigan
An impressive defensive game granted Ball State Women’s Volleyball (19-6, 10-2 MAC) the win Saturday over Western Michigan (13-13, 3-9 MAC) in yet another sweep for the Cardinals.
Junior libero Kate Avila played a key role in the match, picking up 22 digs and keeping the Cardinals alive through a .124 hitting percentage and a tough night for the frontline.
“In close sets like tonight, I just have to remind myself that I’ve done these reps before,” Avila said. “I kind of reel it in and remind myself that this is nothing new and it’s just like what I do in practice, and that helps me to stay composed.”
This being her ninth match of the season with more than 20 digs, Avila has become a defensive staple for the team. Maintaining double-digits in every match this season and winning a MAC weekly honor in early October, she has been a consistent and valuable player for the Cardinal squad.
“Being a libero and being on the court a lot obviously comes with some leadership responsibilities,” Avila said. “But truthfully, we all lead a little bit, even the underclassmen.”
The Cardinals had no problem getting off to a quick start, jumping out to an 11-4 lead. Defense played a major role early on where the Cardinals saw numbers across the board and six digs coming from junior setter Amber Seaman.
“Both teams played really solid defense,” head coach Kelli Miller said. “Kate was really solid tonight. Western Michigan was all over the court, and we had to match that.”
The Broncos’ -.022 hitting percentage resulted in a Cardinal victory for set one. Racking up 12 hitting errors and two service errors, the Broncos struggled to make things happen offensively. The Cardinals tallied only three attack errors and hit over .200 for the set.
In set two, the Cardinals maintained the lead throughout most of the set, but the Broncos wouldn’t go down without a fight. After multiple ties and a number of rallies, the Cardinals came out victorious, 25-23. Despite the win, the Cardinals hitting percentage fell to .141 after 9 hitting errors in set two alone.
After a few kills from freshman Reece Kral, senior Emily Holland and Seaman, the Cardinals took set three, 25-21.
“Our blocks and our backcourt defense did a really nice job tonight and helped us to stay in this game,” Miller said. “We struggled a little bit on the offensive side, but we were able to facilitate a lot of people tonight and use our depth which was huge for us.”
The Cardinals have just four matches left before the MAC Tournament, and they will take on Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan next weekend.